Burlington School Food Project adds frozen meals to the menu

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Edmunds Middle School is the center of production for nearly 1,600 meals for Burlington students, given out through the Burlington School Food Project. And now, they're working on something a little bit different than the traditional bagged lunch.

Since mid-March, the Burlington School Food Project has been supplying area kids 19 and under with free meals while school is out.

But recent changes have allowed the program to expand its food options for kids who need meals. And they now offer frozen meals to be given out at food pickup sites.

"Making it all here, storing it in the freezer and then transporting it to our distribution sites to be included with our meals that we're delivering," said Heather Torrey of the Burlington School Food Project.

The goal is to provide variety in the meals kids are eating but to also give them a nutritious option outside of the sandwiches they were receiving before.

"Kids do tend to eat meals at school, whether they need to financially or not, so I think now when families are really struggling, it's super important that we make sure that the nutrition that they need is being offered to them," said Doug Davis of the Burlington School Food Project.

Project managers say engagement will increase, as well. They say as they change what they're offering, more people will come to the pickup sites, allowing their employees and other district team members to get their eyes on the families and kids, to make sure everything is OK and have a check-in.

Each meal will come bagged with instructions on how to properly heat up the food, made from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Parents can pick up these meals at any of their sites, for multiple days at a time, making access to these meals easy.

Also in Burlington, the Fletcher Free Library is digging into its summer book stash to hand out free reads to students.

Kids can get them at the same sites where the city is giving away those frozen meals.

The library has given out about 300 books so far.

The goal is to give students something educational to do and get their eyes off their screens.

"Reading is an escape. These are tough times, and so it's so nice to just get into a really good book and your mind, your imagination takes over and you can go to a different place," said Mary Danko of the Fletcher Free Library.

The only catch is that you must judge these books by their covers. Once you pick it up, it's yours to take home. But librarians are at these handouts to help make recommendations.

There are various food pickup locations across the city where students can get the food and books.

On Mondays, there will be sites at the Riverside Apartments and Franklin Square from 9:30 a.m. until 10 a.m.

On Tuesdays, books, and food will be available at the North Avenue Alliance Church parking lot from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. And at the Sustainability Academy parking lot from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.

On Wednesdays, books and food will be available at Bobbin Mill, South Meadow and Northgate from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

On Thursdays, you can go to Edmunds from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. And then Champlain Elementary parking lot from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Finally, on Fridays, you can go to Salmon Run or the Boys & Girls Club from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.