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A different kind of meals on wheels: Franklin County Technical School delivers food to students

  • Franklin County Technical School Director of School Meals Elizabeth Bouchard helps load food onto a school bus for delivery last week. Contributed Photo

  • Franklin County Technical School Director of School Meals Elizabeth Bouchard helps load food onto a school bus for delivery last week. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 3/24/2020 3:28:42 PM

TURNERS FALLS — The past week and a half has kept school staff from across the county busy planning and delivering meals to students. Included is the Franklin County Technical School, which has been working to drive meals across 540 square miles to reach its students.

“Last week was a great week of work for us all,” said Director of School Meals Elizabeth Bouchard.

According to Assistant Principal John Carey, the Franklin Tech serves students who reside across those 540 square miles. Staff members, Carey said, have proven to be up to the challenge of delivering meals across the region during this time of need. Superintendent Richard Martin echoed these sentiments.

Following the orders of Gov. Charlie Baker, schools are closed through April 6 in response to the developing COVID-19 outbreak. Local school districts have been coming up with ways to keep food accessible to families while their classrooms are closed.

“Each one of the past days have proven to be fluid and ever-changing: partnerships and innovative approaches have characterized our work and will continue to do so,” Martin explained.

In the first week of adjusting to the closure and need to provide food for students, Bouchard said the school has logged hundreds of miles on mini-buses operated by Franklin Tech and its contracted bus company, F.M. Kuzmeskus. Their staff delivered more than 1,000 breakfasts and lunches last week, and the school is planning to double that this week.

“Last week we operated each day with numerous stops from Colrain to Orange,” Bouchard said. “We have also made sure to have contingencies with food banks and shelters to ensure we waste nothing. None of the professional work of our staff is going to waste.”

As schools continue to provide basic food security for their students, Franklin Tech has maintained communication with a number of local districts to maximize how freshly prepared, healthy meals are delivered to Franklin Tech students and children in other districts. Bouchard explained she has tried to leverage Franklin Tech’s National School Lunch Program financial reimbursement to help as many students as possible.

“On Friday we started assisting the Pioneer (Valley Regional School) District’s families,” Bouchard noted.

Franklin Tech Principal Brian Spadafino encourages families to access the school’s website — fcts.us. — to list their meal needs for each day, determine meal drop-off sites and provide family contact information.

“We are fully committed to doing this work as educators,” Spadafino said. “We are all in to support our families, and we really need them to communicate with us to have maximum effect, for however long we need to do this.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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