SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Governor Charlie Baker’s Administration announced today a $56 million food insecurity grant program, and it's to connect those in need to locally produced food.

The first round of $3 million was awarded to 26 recipients, including Springfield Public Schools, and now, the district is expanding its free summer meal program.

“Several schools and school districts have received grants to address this issue through this grant award, including Springfield Public Schools, which is receiving almost $500,000 through this opportunity today for equipment and supplies needed to ensure they can continue to provide pre-packaged meals to over 25,000 students," said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides.

Theoharides said remote learning has made it more difficult for schools to provide food for kids in need. That’s why the Bay State is continuing to help schools like Springfield keep its food program running.

“I think they need it right now. Because there’s a lot of parents that are out of work and it's hard to have money to make meals right now. So I think that it's important," said Springfield resident Scott Wallace.

Springfield Public Schools are taking things even further by expanding their current meal service, providing food, and more to anyone under 18, whether they go to the city's schools or not.

“This is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack and milk. Fresh fruit. There have also been toiletries that have been distributed," said Springfield Public School's Chief Communications Officer Azell Cavaan.

During the pandemic, meals at the school district are distributed 11 in the morning until one in the afternoon Monday through Friday, but now on Mondays and Thursdays select schools will also give out meals, dinner from four to six at night.

“I think that it's helpful for the low-income families that are here in Springfield, Mass, and I pray and hope that all parents and students are getting access to it. Cause it’s a really good thing for us to have right now because of the pandemic that we’re in," Wallace noted.

This program is available to all parents, inside or outside the city, if they're in need.

“Not necessarily in my situation, but I mean, I certainly would if the reason opens up at that we need to take advantage of something like that. We’re all in this thing together, so we have to help each other out," said East Longmeadow resident Rick Baker.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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