The Recorder – Summer Eats program bringing back in-person meals in Greenfield

GREENFIELD – After two years of operating on the grab-and-go model, the annual summer meals program, called Summer Eats, is returning to offer its traditional in-person meals this summer.

“We’ve been getting a lot of comments from parents that they prefer the grab-and-go model, and we completely understand the convenience of that,” said Food Service Director Greta Shwachman. “That contributed to our success.”

However, Shwachman explained that the US Department of Agriculture no longer has the same pandemic-related policies in place that allowed for the grab-and-go model the last two summers.

“We’re trying out a couple of new parks,” Shwachman said. “We’re hoping this facilitates new reasons to come out, whether it’s the splash pad or taking the dog to the park, and being able to stop for free meals for their kids while they’re there.”

Meals will be available at 10 locations throughout the city beginning Monday, June 27, with breakfast starting between 8:30 am and 9 am, and lunch beginning between 11:30 am and noon, depending on the location. Any individual under the age of 18 – regardless of whether they’re a Greenfield resident or a student of the schools – is eligible to receive a free meal.

Shwachman said she and school nutrition departments are expecting participation to go down this summer as a result of the switch from grab-and-go.

“We’re just trying to remain flexible and still make things convenient for families by having as many sites as possible,” Shwachman said.

The program may evolve throughout the summer, depending on participation levels at each location, she noted. Updates can be found online through the Food Department’s social media pages, as well as via the school website, gpsk12.org/gps-district/greenfield-summer-eats.

“This program is for all families,” she said. “I think some folks are nervous about taking resources from others… but there’s no shortage of food, no shortage of resources. … We’re hoping to have as many people as possible. ”

Shwachman said she hopes to incentivize families to participate with weekly raffles and prizes, and by forming partnerships with local agencies and nonprofits.

“Every meal that’s eaten at our sites is important to us – that’s how our program is funded,” Shwachman said. “We’re reimbursed on a per-meal basis.”

The Summer Eats program will kick off Wednesday, June with a free cookout at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area from 4 to 6 pm Local organizations will be in attendance, including the Greenfield Public Library, Franklin County Community Meals Program and Stone Soup Cafe, among others.

“It should be a really good event,” Shwachman said. “I’m really excited about that and how many community organizations jumped on board to participate.”

The meals program will operate from June 27 to Aug. 19.

Schedule, locations

■ Academy of Early Learning, 15 Place Terrace – breakfast: 8:30 to 9 am; lunch: noon to 12:30 pm

■ Green River Park, 22 Petty Plain Road – breakfast: 9 to 10 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Greenfield Gardens, 2 Pray Drive – breakfast: 9 to 10 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Greenfield High School, 21 Barr Ave. – breakfast: 08:30 to 09 am; lunch: noon to 12:30 pm

■ Green River Swimming and Recreation Area, 1 Nash’s Mill Road – breakfast: 8:30 to 9:30 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Hillside Park splash pad, 42 Grove St. – breakfast: 9 to 10 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Leyden Woods, 24 Leyden Woods Lane – breakfast: 9 to 10 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Newton School playground, 70 Shelburne Road – breakfast: 8 to 9 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Oak Courts, 1 Elm Terrace – breakfast: 9 to 10 am; lunch: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

■ Franklin County’s YMCA, 451 Main St. – breakfast: 07:30 to 08:30; lunch: noon to 12:30 pm

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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