SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Springfield Public Schools is working to fight food insecurity in western Massachusetts this holiday.
Springfield Public School’s Home Grown Springfield culinary and nutrition program will be serving free grab-and-go meals on Monday and Wednesday leading up to Christmas and New Year’s week.
Families that participate will receive seven days worth of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack) per child to last through Christmas and the weekend.
“The health and wellbeing of our students is our top priority at Springfield Public Schools,” said Superintendent Daniel Warwick. “Proper nutrition is critical to help our students learn. The pandemic has interrupted normal routines for families, and many of our Springfield students and families depend on the healthy meals they receive through our school meal program. Since March of this year, we’ve provided nearly 5 million meals to students. We’d like to extend that support to the greater community to make sure all children in Springfield under the age of 18 have access to the food they need this holiday season.”
Across the country, more than 30 million kids rely on schools for reduced-price and free meals. Since the start of the pandemic, only 15 percent of those kids have recieved those meals.
The need is especially great in Springfield. The number of students that come from families with a household income below the federal poverty line has increased to 80 percent.
“For many children, a school meal may be the only meal they have each day. While children who face food insecurity at home are on winter break, Springfield Public Schools wants to ensure that they have ongoing access to fresh, nutritious meals,” said Superintendent Warwick. “The district’s goal is to eliminate child hunger in our schools and community, and now it is more important than ever to get meals to our students.”
Any child under the age of 18 and who is a resident of Springfield can qualify for the meals. The child does not need to be enrolled in Springfield Public Schools to receive the meals. Identification is not required.
Meal pick-up will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. during winter break at the following schools:
- Forest Park
- Indian Orchard
- Milton Bradley
- Rebecca Johnson
- Van Sickle
Safe handling procedures will be in place when families pick-up meals, including social distancing protocols and curbside pick-up.