AMHERST, Mass. – Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has begun offering two daily meals to 400 students attending Amherst Public Schools at seven locations around Amherst as the community responds to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The USDA provides all funding for the program, which is similar to one that was implemented during the summer months in 2019 while students were on vacation.
Using UMass Amherst’s Baby Berk food truck, the program offers students breakfast and lunch each weekday. The food truck begins making stops at 10:30 a.m. and will be at each place for about 15 minutes, finishing by 1 p.m.
The seven stops are at housing and apartment complexes in town: Olympic, North Village, Village Park, Southpoint, Butternut, Colonial Village and Rolling Green. The truck provides lunch and breakfast for the following day.
Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises at UMass Amherst, says the university is happy to work with the town and its schools. “It’s always good to be able to help neighbors in need, especially during this uncertain time. Our team is more than willing to assist in any way. We are reminded daily that we are all in this together and we can help each other get through it,” Toong says.
Garett DiStefano, UMass Amherst’s director of dining services, says the goal of this program is simple, “We’re building community around food during this unprecedented time. UMass Dining will provide healthy, sustainable breakfasts and lunches, on a daily basis, for more than 400 students.”
“This is another example of the outstanding partnership between the Amherst Regional Public Schools and UMass,” stated Michael Morris, superintendent of schools. “Providing nutritious meals for our students is a top priority during this unprecedented situation, and UMass is helping the district to ensure that the needs of all of our students are met.”
The program follows the summer USDA meal program model that was implemented last year by UMass Amherst and the Amherst public schools.
The duration of the new program depends on whether Amherst Public Schools will reopen before June 30. If schools remain closed, it will roll straight into the 2020 summer meals service, UMass Amherst officials say.
The meals are created by UMass Dining Services as part of its daily operations.