WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange business community is rallying to help public school students who will be in need of breakfast and lunch now that schools have been closed due to the global health crisis.

Although Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closing of all movie theaters, gyms, casinos and racetracks and restricted all bars and restaurants to offering only takeout and delivery services until further notice, several West Orange businesses have offered their food services for the benefit of West Orange students who will likely be out of school for an extended period of time.

Following this week, which is being considered spring break for West Orange Public Schools, the district will begin virtual learning on Monday, March 23. A letter has been sent to families about how they can access food services while school is closed, explaining that Maschio’s, the district’s food service provider, will “be in a position to provide meals for [West Orange] students that need them.”

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Several options for families that may depend on breakfast and lunch for their students were shared, including the following:

  • Holy Trinity Food Pantry, located at 315 Main Street, will be open from Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon in order to provide families with a bag of groceries that will provide items that include peanut butter, jelly, fruit, macaroni and cheese, tuna, shelf-stable milk and bread for several days worth of lunches. (The pantry will also be accepting donations of these items and snacks during these hours.)
  • Bags will also be available from 10 a.m. to noon at West Orange High School, Hazel Elementary School, Gregory Elementary School, Betty Maddalena Early Learning Center and the West Orange Board of Education Administration Office (179 Eagle Rock Avenue)

Several local restaurants have also offered free lunches to students in K-12, including the following:

  • Pepe’s BBQ —977 Pleasant Valley Way
  • Fortissimo Osteria / Pizzeria — 484 Pleasant Valley Way
  • Patsy’s Seafood and Pizza House — 410 St. Cloud Avenue
  • Harrison Ave Tavern — 36 Harrison Avenue
  • Harper’s Café — 134 South Valley Road
  • Fandango Mexican Grill — 490 Pleasant Valley Way

For more information regarding food services, contact Cynthia Cumming, communications director for West Orange schools and food pantry administrator, at 201-341-9217 or heidlercumming@aol.com.

“We are grateful to our West Orange community for their generosity and support through a very challenging time,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. J. Scott Cascone. “We will continue to provide updates on this and other pertinent issues as more information becomes available.”

Cascone reminds the community that the utilization of the district’s spring break in lieu of a forced closure was done “principally to provide the necessary time to the school district” to ensure that the district will be able to move over to a virtual learning model “as effectively and as comfortably for students and parents as possible.”

“This is important to note, as the methods employed in our community relative to social distancing is the same as that of those school districts who will be closing and that, unlike a typical spring break, play dates and socializing are to be minimized as CDC guidelines suggest,” said Cascone. “The overall rule of thumb, as hard as this may be to accept and do, is to maintain a distance no less than six feet from anyone other than your immediate family.”

He also reassured the community that the district is doing everything it can to support students, parent and teachers and to work with them “for the benefit, safety and well-being of our children.”

“On a daily basis, we come together as a community of families, students, staff and community partners and execute with great precision a tremendously complex undertaking: the education and round-trip transportation of almost 7,000 students,” said Cascone. “What enables us to do this is that we are unified and committed to our respective responsibilities and collective mission. That is exactly what is called for and necessary at this time...

“Together we will overcome this crisis of the day and come out of it stronger, better, and more unified than ever before.”

CLICK HERE to view the superintendent's latest video update.