Team ensures kids receive ‘good, healthy food’ during pandemic

Westfield Public Schools cafeteria employee Marlene Hoffman makes sandwiches April 17, 2020 to distribute to families. (RACHEL KANIA PHOTO)

WESTFIELD-A team of approximately 10 area residents gather weekday mornings at the Westfield Middle School on West Silver Street to ensure that close to 450 breakfasts and 450 lunches are prepared for city youth during the pandemic.

“We have seven people working, along with three to five volunteers handing out meals at various locations,” said Rachel Kania, director of food services for the Westfield Public Schools.

The production team includes Kania, Kimberly Poulin, Westfield Middle School cafeteria manager, three cafeteria workers, a custodian and driver.

“I’m so happy to be a part of what we’re doing here,” said Poulin, who has been employed with the city schools for 22 years. “There is a huge need in our city for good, healthy food during these uncertain times and I’m just glad we are able to do this for people.”

Cindy Lincoln, a Westfield Middle School cafeteria worker for 12 years, shared a similar sentiment.

“I like to make sure the kids are fed and hope they know we’re thinking of them,” said Lincoln.

Free curbside breakfast and lunch pick up services are available at several locations throughout the city.  Breakfasts consist of yogurts, cereals and muffins with juice and local fresh milk, with lunches featuring sandwiches, wraps, and salads served with fresh local vegetables and fruits, according to Kania.

“We are trying to constantly change up the menus so kids don’t get tired of the meal choices,” said Kania.

Kania stressed the production team “strictly adheres” to Servsafe guidelines.

“We have ramped up our sanitation of incoming food from vendors and when handing meals out to families,” she added.

For more information on sites and drop off times, visit cityofwestfield.org or call the Food Services Department at (413) 572-6493.

For cafeteria workers entrusted to this vital service during the pandemic, they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else at this time.

“I like to help out the kids, plus I like the work,” said Theresa Boas, Westfield Middle School cafeteria worker for 12 years.

Marlene Hoffman, also a 12-year cafeteria worker from Westfield Technical Academy, concurred.

“I think it’s important for families that are in need,” said Hoffman.

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