Essex Westford School District Distributes 500,000th free school meal and counting since March

Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 9:39 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Food insecurity continues to be a major issue around the country and local school districts are combatting it with free meals for students. Essex Westford School district hit quite the milestone on Friday, hitting its 500,000th free school meal since March, and they were here on Friday handing out nearly 2000 more meals to kids 18 and under, something they do every week.

“My kids love the food so it helps the community and it helps us so it’s great,” says Danette Fleishman who was picking up food for her kids.

One of Vermont’s largest school districts has now gotten half a million meals into the hands of kids to make sure they have food on the table.

The district is also encouraging anyone, regardless of need, to come out and pick up meals for the weekends.

“You’re not taking a meal from someone in need you’re actually promoting and helping to fund the program. It’s based on participating, so the more people that come the stronger we can be for the folks who really need us,” says Scott Fay the Essex Westford School District Child Nutrition Manager.

The weekend meal packs have four total meals for Saturday and Sunday. The menu this weekend includes bagels, french toast, grilled chicken alfredo, and a make-your-own pizza kit.

You don’t need to sign up for anything and families don’t have to live in the school district to get the meals. Some are evening having fun with them.

“We’ve been able to do some food challenges take what’s been given to use and create our own we have a vegetarian at home so working on making sure we’re getting the fruits and vegetables is really helpful,” says Craig Davis of Essex Junction.

According to Aunt Dot’s Place, a local food pantry in Essex, the need for meals jumped by nearly double from 2019 to 2020 in the area.

“There’s so much going on where people are out of work there’s just a lot of food insecurity happening right now,” says Fay.

According to the state, there are nearly 250 open meal sites around the state to help keep food on the table during the pandemic. You can find the nearest location here or by calling 2-1-1.

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