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  • Nickolas Dionne, a preschooler at Bridge Street School, and his mother, Dani Dionne, who happens to be a crossing guard at the school, pick up a bagged lunch and breakfast from the Northampton Public Schools at a school bus parked on Pleasant Street on Thursday, March 19, 2020. Thursday was the first day of the NPS program of providing free meals to school-aged children on weekdays from 11 a.m. and noon from the familiar yellow buses parked at four sites. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

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Published: 3/19/2020 3:28:36 PM
Modified: 3/19/2020 3:28:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON – On Thursday, Northampton Public Schools started its free bagged lunch and breakfast program for all school-aged children 18 or younger, dispersing the meals from familiar bright yellow school buses parked at four locations: Hampshire Heights, Florence Heights, Meadowbrook Apartments and at 236 Pleasant Street (shown here), adjacent to The Lumber Yard apartments. The meals will be available from 11 a.m. until noon each weekday while the schools are closed to help stem the coronavirus pandemic. According to the NPS website, children do not need to be from the Northampton school district and no proof of income, residency or age is required.

Children who do attend a city school may find a familiar face next to the buses as each site tries to include one staffer from each of three tiers: elementary, middle and high school levels. Northampton High School English teacher Michelle Bernhard, who was at the Pleasant Street location Thursday with paraprofessionals from Bridge Street School and JFK Middle School, said the kids that have come by have gotten a real kick from seeing someone from their school, and she herself said hello to at least one former student.

In addition to the NPS breakfasts and lunches for kids on Thursday (which included options for peanut butter and jam or sun butter and jam), Northampton eatery Belly of the Beast had prepared and donated adult meals with such items as potatoes, cabbage, beats and mac and cheese. The Quarters in Hadley has also volunteered to donate sandwiches.

Kevin Gutting can be reached at kgutting@gazettenet.com.

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