Lana Beal, secretary/registrar for Westwood Jr/Sr High School, and Lorena Melendrez, cafeteria assistant, distribute grab and go lunches at the old Fletcher Walker School site. Any child, whether enrolled in Westwood schools or not, can participate up to the age of 18 years old. Photos by Terry Johnson

Westwood Unified provides breakfast/ lunch to all district children

All children living within the Westwood Unified School District can receive lunch and breakfast at the old Fletcher Walker School site from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday even if they are not enrolled in Westwood schools. The lunch, and breakfast for the following morning, is distributed curbside in a grab and go format to any child up to 18 years old.

Shelley Mendoza, cafeteria manager, said she is serving both hot and cold lunches and currently has plenty of supplies to meet what has been an increasing demand. Thursday, March 19, which was the first day of the closure of schools, she served 12 children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Tuesday, March 24, she distributed 57 containers of spaghetti, a homemade roll, salad, peaches and milk with a muffin and juice for breakfast the next day. She said the request for lunches has steadily climbed.

However, there has been no problem with product delivery, said Mendoza. She ordered takeout cartons and will do another order since the count has been higher than expected.

She has about three weeks of supplies in the refrigerator and freezer that include such items as chicken, hotdogs and hamburger. Therefore, if there should be a glitch in the delivery of supplies, she would be able to continue feeding local children. Also, she is prepared to continue the program should Westwood schools remain closed after April 20, which is the current date to reopen. It has not been determined if the district will serve lunch during spring break, April 13 through 17.

Mendoza said Krissy House, chief business official for the Westwood Unified School District, expedited the paperwork in order for the district to serve non-congregate meals beginning the day after the school closure.

House said the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division received approval from the federal government to serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option. This allows food to be distributed for consumption offsite. The waiver is valid through June 30. The district receives funding through the School Nutrition Program.

Because children at Westwood schools are offered breakfast through a non-profit program called “Breakfast for Kids,” Mendoza is not familiar with government regulations for this morning meal. She is doing some research in order to expand that menu. Currently, there is a large quantity of cereal available from “Breakfast for Kids” she can distribute in addition to muffins.

Staff helping in the kitchen are Lorena Melendrez, who regularly assists Mendoza, as well as Connie Theobald, secretary for Fletcher Walker Elementary, and Lana Beal, secretary/registrar for Westwood Jr/Sr High. Extra cleaning and sanitation are done daily, said Mendoza.

Anyone planning on picking up a meal should call Fletcher Walker Elementary at 256-3295 before 9 a.m. each morning and leave a message. In this way there will not be a shortage of lunches. The “old” Fletcher Walker site where the food is distributed is located at 5th and Delwood streets.

Mendoza said she is still trying to figure everything out.