Along with eLearning beginning four weeks ago, Wilton Public Schools also launched the district’s meal delivery program to bring five lunches a week to students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
“We wanted to make sure that the safety and health of the students are paramount,” said Anne Kelly-Lenz, who does double duty as CFO for both the Town of Wilton and the Board of Education.
Though 218 students are eligible for the service, as of Tuesday, March 31, 30 students have opted into the program or about 17 families, Kelly-Lenz said. This is double the number of students served as of Friday, March 20.
The district is eager to get out the word for any families who would benefit from enrolling in the lunch program. Families who may be experiencing hardship and would benefit from having lunch prepared for their children during the school week can complete the district’s online submission form. Anyone with questions about the lunch deliveries can email Lucille DeNovio.
Chartwells Food Service employees are still making the meals, just as they would have on a normal school day, Kelly-Lenz said. They enter through a back entrance to ensure that the rest of the school is still closed.
“They know our program, they know our kids, they know how everything works and their menu and everything. So they’re the ones handling it,” Kelly-Lenz added.
Three employees are currently involved in the operation, the lowest number of people the current need allows. Meals are delivered two lunches at a time every other day to minimize contact and dropped off directly at families’ houses via the same van used to drive food to the off-site Genesis program during regular school days.
Keeping the same vendor, having the same food, and keeping the service up and running is a way to keep consistency and support families in this uncertain time.
“The safety and health of the students are paramount,” Kelly-Lenz said. “So we made sure… the same procedures are being held so that the food is being managed in the same manner to make sure that they’re getting their nutrition meals every day.”
Wilton isn’t the only district for whom Chartwells is preparing meals for students impacted by school closure. In Norwalk, Chartwells also providing meals, in collaboration with Norwalk Public Schools to offer free breakfast and lunch and free delivery to every student under 18 every day, with school buses stopping at every bus stop to deliver meals to interested students.
Kelly-Lenz added that Wilton will continue to review the needs of the community and adjust accordingly if changes are necessary. But school officials are optimistic about the service.
“It’s going to be by day by day, week by week to see if the numbers increase, how we manage it,” Kelly-Lenz said. “But it will still be in place through the end of the school year.”