By STEVE LENOX
PATERSON, NJ – More than two million pre-packaged meals, consisting of breakfast and lunch have been served to Paterson Public Schools students and their families since March 17, a statement announced Monday.
The milestone prompted Superintendent Eileen Shafer to share her pride in and gratitude for the volunteers that have consistently shared their time to make sure students have had access to nutritious meals while classrooms have remained shuttered as a result of COVID-19.
As families lined up at select Paterson Public Schools’ buildings to receive packages of food, the District had reached distribution of 2,042,495 student meals. For the past ten months, since March 17th, The District has been providing pre-packaged meals consisting of breakfast and lunch to students and their families.
“Our Food Services Department Executive Director, David Buchholtz, and his staff have done an excellent job of organizing the program,” Shafer said. “We know that families are struggling with the difficulties that the pandemic has forced on them and the District is here to help in any way that it can, especially to make sure that the students are well fed.”
Initially providing meals five days a week, the program expanded in November to also offer meals on the weekends, the first District in New Jersey to do so. Distributed initially at community locations such as churches and fire stations, the program moved to school buildings after a few weeks and currently includes eight locations.
“Serving 2 million meals since March 17th, is surely a milestone,” Buchholtz stated, “but a bittersweet one at that.
“It’s bitter in the sense that the pandemic is still with us and so many families are struggling with food insecurity, but it is also sweet because the Paterson School District is in the position to help so many families and to give the feeling of normalcy to those in need during these turbulent times.”
In order to accommodate the holiday District officials announced that enough meals were distributed for five days on Monday to last through the 25th and an additional five meals will be distributed Wednesday to last through January 1st. Food distribution will resume on January 4th.