WESTBROOK, Maine — At this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to imagine being a child. Schools have shuttered, activities have come to a halt and birthday parties are celebrated by friends passing by your house in honking cars. Millions of kids are waking each day to parents struggling to work from home and helping them with online classes while still making sure there is food on the table.
But despite these challenging times, families in Westbrook can feed their children thanks to the dedicated school nutrition staff. “We are providing kids with breakfast and lunch for seven days a week using USDA's Summer Food Service Program,” said Mary Emerson, the Westbrook School Nutrition Director.
“In the month of March, we served 6,953 breakfast meals and 7,613 lunch meals with this program.” That’s a total of 14,566 meals in approximately two weeks.
As of right now, Emerson says her team is serving about 10,000 meals every week.
Emerson said 64% of students in Westbrook qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year. To meet the children’s needs, the district immediately sprung to action when schools closed on March 16 to provide meals for all students.
Last Friday, the nutrition team prepared and sent out 3,222 meals. This includes lunch and breakfast for the weekend and Monday’s breakfast. Emerson said that’s a lot of meals to prepare in one day, and she is grateful for her hardworking staff.
Parents can pick up the meals Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the WRVC bus loop on Vocational Drive in Westbrook. To ensure the safety of all involved, the staff asks that you remain in your car. If you are unable to pick up the kids' meals, the school offers delivery. To learn about the nutrition program click here: www.westbrookschools.org
“Thank you to our amazing school nutrition department for preparing meals,” said Peter Lancia, Superintendent of Westbrook Schools. “I am pleased to say that our meal distribution program is considered an essential service and will continue.”
Jennifer Brooks, Principal of Congin School in Westbrook, said, “Lunches and breakfasts are available to all school-aged children under the age of 18, no questions asked.”
None of us will ever forget COVID-19. It has forced us to rewrite the basic way we live our daily lives. Thankfully, stories like these will give us hope and a sense of togetherness in a time when many are struggling alone. “We share a special relationship that shines through even in tough times,” said Dr. Lancia.