Free and reduced lunch program continues for South Hadley students

  • Diana Bonneville, interim South Hadly superintendent.

Staff Writer
Published: 3/19/2020 7:25:36 PM
Modified: 3/19/2020 7:25:25 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — As schools remain closed through at least April 7 due to the COVID-19 virus, students on the free and reduced lunch plan in the South Hadley school district can continue to access breakfast and lunch through the program.

The South Hadley School Committee voted at a School Committee meeting Monday to reallocate up to $40,000 into its school lunch account and authorize interim Superintendent Diana Bonneville to provide meals to all students on the free and reduced lunch program, either through delivery or pickup.

“While families most certainly have their plates full worrying about child care, activating learning activities for their children and keeping everyone healthy, we don’t want families that have students who receive free/reduced lunch to have to worry about daily meals as well,” Bonneville said in a message to students and families.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, eligible students can pick up curbside delivery lunches at the high school between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m free of charge. To-go bags will contain two lunches and two breakfasts on Monday and Wednesday, and one of each of these meals on Friday.

The district is “working on finding a solution as quickly as possible” for families who do not have transportation means to pick up food at the high school. In her message, Bonneville also encouraged qualifying families to utilize additional SNAP benefits and the local food pantry.

Thiry-seven percent of students enrolled in South Hadley public schools take part in the free and reduced lunch program, Bonneville said at the meeting, which was held through a conference call in accordance with public health measures to halt the spread of COVID-19. Schools with at least 50 percent of students on the program qualify for reimbursement, though superintendents are pushing for all non-qualifying districts to qualify for this assistance, she added.

At the meeting, the School Committee and the South Hadley Education Association also agreed that employees will continue to receive full pay and benefits while their work site is closed, and that employees who fall ill with COVID-19 will be placed on administrative leave with full pay and benefits once they have exhausted their sick leave.

Employees diagnosed with COVID-19 must immediately report this information to the district and remain out of work or as long as their doctors and public health guidelines require.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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