HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Holyoke Public Schools was awarded a grant to improve food security throughout the year.

According to a news release sent to 22News from Holyoke Public Schools Spokesperson Andrés Villada, $500,000 was awarded from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to help address food insecurity issues at Holyoke High School North. The grant will be used to address food insecurity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by improving student access to healthy foods.

Children will be able to have more access to healthy meals throughout the summer when a new food truck is purchased to distribute meals. The food truck will be at both high school campuses, bus stops, summer feeding locations, and other community events as needed. The increased use of the food truck will determine eligibility for additional federal meal reimbursements.

“The food truck is also intended to reduce the stigma associated with free lunch. Sometimes people who need food the most don’t know how or won’t access the food program because they don’t want a public reminder that they are poor, or they can’t because of geographic isolation,” stated Villada.

The North Campus will receive a new large refrigerator/freezer and an emergency power backup generator. The equipment will ensure the meals will be kept chilled and frozen in the event of a power outage. With the purchase of the new equipment, the school can serve as an emergency shelter.