Burlington School District’s meal service program provides student with seven days worth of food

Local News

The Assistant Director of Food Services for the Burlington School District is being recognized for her approach in feeding communities throughout the pandemic. 

Heather Torrey was just named Director of the Year by the School Nutrition Association of Vermont. Torrey created the Family Meal Kit program. It provides children with seven days worth of meals in the form of both prepared foods and groceries.

More than 20,000 meal kits have been distributed every Wednesday and Friday since last September. Just where you would expect her, Torrey was at the old Burlington High school Friday passing out meal kits.

“We will probably hand out close to 150 family meal kits today,” Torrey said.  

At the start of the pandemic, school districts got flexibility from the USDA to feed children learning from home. That’s when meal kits were born! 

“Each meal kit is intended to cover seven days worth of breakfast, lunch, supper and snack for one child,” Torrey said. 

Any child is eligible to receive a meal, it doesn’t matter which district they’re in.

“I try to make them as you can probably guess, represent a wide variety of foods and vegetables,” Torrey said. 

Elba Vazquez has been picking up meal kits since they started. Her son attends BHS. 

Vazquez said the food is beneficial for her family because prices of fresh produce have gone up. 

“It’s very healthy for my family,” Vazquez said. 

The President of the School Nutrition Association of Vermont, Karyl Kent, said in school settings, when kids are hungry, not only do they become distracted, but they can distract those around them.

“Sometimes it’s the child shutting down and not interacting,” Kent said. “There is a lot of fear, kids are fearful of where their next meal is coming from.”  

June 11 is the last Friday meals will be distributed. At that point they’ll switch to only Wednesday throughout the summer. 

“It’s incredibly gratifying and humbling to know that we are able to make such a big difference in our community,” Torrey said. 

Torrey was just named Director of the Year by the School Nutrition Association of Vermont.

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