Boys and Girls Club distributes take-home dinners to children

March 31, 2020 | Dennis Hackett

The Boys and Girls Club’s Kitchen Manager Beth Renaudette stands next to a cooler full of meals for students in need.
Reminder Publishing photo by Dennis Hackettt

WESTFIELD – While students are out of school as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield is teaming up with the Westfield School District to bring dinners to children in need every week night.

Bo Sullivan, the chief administrative officer with the Boys and Girls Club, said the club decided to help out with dinner distributions after the school district started offering breakfast and lunch for students at the Abner Gibbs School, The Franklin Ave Schools, Powdermill Village Apartments and at the Colonial Pine Acres.

In a separate interview, Superintendent of Schools Stefan Czaporowski said he was happy to be teaming up with the Boys and Girls club, stating, “I think we have a great relationship with them and I want to help get the word out about their program as well, about 40 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged so we need to help them and together we are.”

He explained the club is offering meals from three different locations, the Boys and Girls Club from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. along with the Franklin Ave School and the Colonial Pine Apartments from 5 to 6 p.m.
One of the volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club, Alexis Wessig, said that each location has the same volunteers work each day.

The process for picking up the meals is fairly straightforward and completely anonymous at the Boys and Girls club location. Each meal is prepared before people drive up, and the meals are held in a cooler outside the building with backups inside the building as well. Then, when a guest comes to take meals, they say how many meals they need from the car before one of the volunteers places the meals on a table and the guest takes them in order to maintain the current social distancing policies.

Sullivan explained that the meals are similar to its summer meal program. He said, “What we are offering is the same as our Summer Food Program, so each night we curate a menu and hand out the meals based on that and the Department of Education’s guidelines for healthy foods as well.”

In terms of the contents of the meals, Sullivan said each meal comes packaged with a sandwich, two sides and milk. He added that each meal also comes with a snack and apple juice.

Sullivan added that the club is just trying to do its best to help the community during this difficult time. He said, “We are trying to do our part and things are going very well so far. The more people we serve, the better we’re going to feel during this whole situation.”

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