WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- While school is officially done for the academic year, one local public school district is seeing the need to continue to help students and families amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tables are up, the food is set, and students and families are making their way to Westfield Public Schools on Monday for free meals.
"There will be things like sandwiches, salads, and with hot meals, it will be things like chicken patties, burgers, hot dogs. We'll be switching the menu up just to keep things interesting for kids,” said Rachel Kania, director of food services for Westfield Public Schools.
While school buildings were closed, the district continued to serve lunch to students from early March to the end of the school year.
Kania said seeing the need to help students and families, they wanted to carry this service over into summer.
“We saw numbers steadily rise from the first and second week that we started, up to the point where we do 1,200 to 1,300 meals a day,” Kania explained.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the week, students and families can come to Westfield Middle School and pick up a free meal.
"You can drive right up. You don't have to get out of your car. No income or ID is required…you just let us know how many kids are needing meals for and then we go ahead and tell you what the choices are for the day,” Kania noted.
Serving from the Westfield Middle School and Abner Gibs Elementary until August 21, each bag is filled with a lunch meal for the day and breakfast for the next morning.
Kania told Western Mass News they're adding more options than they did in March.
"We are now going to be introducing cold and hot options,” Kania said.
Though parents and students are responsible to inform the servers of any food allergy, Kania said the one thing they don't have to worry about is feeling guilty - no matter what the circumstance.
"What I've heard from a lot of people is ‘Should we be taking the meal? I still have my job’...Most families are really needing to stretch their dollars for food at this point, so why not let us help? You're helping us and let us help you in turn,” Kania said.