FITCHBURG – Even during a pandemic, nothing can stop the Fitchburg Public School Nutrition Services team.
Since March, the Nutrition Services team has been moving forward and going above and beyond to provide high quality meals free of charge to anyone 18 years of age and under.
This dedicated team, led by Director of Nutrition Services, David Semenza, simply knows the importance of feeding children and takes incredible pride in it.
âEnsuring that families have easy and safe access to nutritious meals for their children during these difficult times has been our main goal,â said Semenza. âEvery decision we make, every meal service option we implement, is made with this in mind. I am so fortunate to lead such a dedicated team of people who all selflessly share this goal. As a team member told me earlier this year, âwe feed the kids, that’s what we doâ.
The total number of meals served in the city is staggering.
During the emergency closure (March 16-June 12) due to COVID-19, nutrition services provided 146,905 meals to families in need. There were 119,740 meals served during the summer program from June 15 to September 11, and an additional 38,495 during distance learning from September 14 to 30.
That’s a total of 305,140 meals, and more, served since the pandemic.
âAs impressive as the number of meals served so far is, our goal each day continues to be to make it as easy, convenient and safe for the community to access,â said Semenza. “It’s not necessarily the number of meals we have served, but rather the number of children and adolescents 18 and under who haven’t received a meal but need it.”
Semenza added, âThe USDA waivers are in place until December 31, which allows us to continue with the current meal program at no cost. These waivers give us the ability to continue providing meals to anyone 18 years of age or younger in a variety of ways. DESE is optimistic that these waivers could continue beyond December 31.
Current meal service options for families include: school meal pickups for distant learners, public community places, friends and families, community centers / daycares, and in-person learning meal pickup.
The collection of school meals is daily (Monday to Friday) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Meal pickup locations are at the main entrance to Fitchburg High, Crocker Elementary, McKay Arts Academy, and Memorial Middle School, and at the Academy Street entrance at Longsjo Middle School, and the rear parking lots at Reingold Elementary and South Street Elementary.
Lunch and breakfast the next day are available for pickup.
Please note that pickup times and locations are subject to change, based on school exit times when in-person learning begins.
Public community meal pickup locations are at Daniels and Clarendon Street (11:15 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.), Meadow Brook Lane and Crestview Lane (11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.) bus stops and Normandy Road and Leyte Road (12: 05-12: 35).
Meals can be collected by different people. Any member of the public who knows of families in need of meals for children and teens 18 and under can go to one of the catering sites to have meals for them.
âJust tell the meal service staff how many meals are needed for people 18 and under and they will be provided,â Semenza said.
In addition, all teachers, faculty and staff at Fitchburg Public Schools can and
encouraged to stop by their school cafeteria to have their meals.
âMeals can be picked up for anyone 18 years of age or younger in your home, neighborhood, friends or family,â Semenza said.
For any questions, contact David Semenza at [email protected]
Garner is the communications coordinator for Fitchburg Public Schools.