WESTERLY — Dozens of the Westerly school district’s students are continuing to receive nutritious meals even though school’s out for the summer, thanks to a partnership with the state.
About 85 children enrolled in Westerly Public Schools’ summer programs have the opportunity to have free breakfast, lunch and a snack Monday through Friday during the more than monthlong summer session that ends in the middle of August.
All breakfast meals and lunches are bagged. Breakfast includes milk, vegetable or fruit and a grain/bread, like a blueberry muffin, for example. Lunch includes milk, vegetable or fruit, grain/bread and a meat or meat alternative.
Snacks choices are celery sticks with sunflower-seed butter or pretzels with yogurt, among others.
Kaitlin Naylor, the director of Westerly Public Schools’ food-service provider Aramark, said officials have been serving about 15 breakfast meals, 50 to 60 lunches and 60 snacks per day.
Beginning last week, Aramark also started using fresh, organic produce like lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash and green and yellow wax beans from Hillandale Farm in Westerly.
Food is prepared on-site at Tower Street School Community Center.
“It’s important for Aramark and Westerly Public Schools to serve summer meals because it greatly helps the families of those enrolled during the summer months,” Naylor said. “Parents/guardians don’t have to worry about packing lunches and their children receive a nutritious meal made fresh daily.
“Aramark also has a strong sense of community and this new program helps us get our foot in the door with Westerly as this is our first year as their food-service provider.”
The summer meal program is in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Education. According to its Admin Guide for Sponsors of the Summer Program, the Summer Food Service Program was established “to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.”
Naylor said, “Like the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program works because the district is able to claim meals through the state and receive reimbursements.”
Superintendent Roy Seitsinger Jr. called the summer meal program “an excellent opportunity for our children and families” and said it’s just the beginning.
“Kaitlin Naylor and I have plans to open a walk-in meal site summer 2016,” he said, “giving us a bit of time to plan appropriately.”