WENATCHEE — Schools have closed, but lunch workers are keeping busy prepping hundreds of free meals for young children and teens.

Next week, both the Wenatchee and Eastmont school districts will start delivering food via bus for those who are unable to travel to school.

Chris Lutgen, Wenatchee School District’s nutrition services director, said people came together as a team to make the grab-and-goes ready by Tuesday. School workers and food vendors mapped out the to-go service plan last weekend.

It has been hard to predict how many people to serve with school being out, he said. On Tuesday, food workers served about 895 children and on Wednesday, over 1,400.

Lutgen said he anticipates the numbers to continue to grow. “The need is there and I’m glad we’re ready to go,” he said.

Meals vary and include fruits, juices, milk, proteins and vegetables as well as extra snacks. The goal is to make sure that the district meets the need for food as much as possible, he said.

“In this time of uncertainty we want to make sure we’re stable,” he said. “We’re trying to combat the hunger in our community.”

Lutgen plans to help feed another 400 students by making meals “mobile” for those who are unable to come into a school site for food, he said. The district is working on making bus routes to help deliver to-go meals.

Wenatchee School’s website should have a map, including school delivery bus routes, up by Monday, he said. Transportation and food service staff will stop at each designated site for about 10 to 15 minutes.

“I have no other plans except to continue this.” He said. “The hunger doesn’t go away.”

Suzy Howard, food service director at the Eastmont School District, said, workers served meals from several district schools. “We’re working on trying to get to as many kids as we can,” she said.

To keep safe, Howard said she is trying to have food workers stay in small groups, maintaining adequate space between each other in the kitchen. People have been working in teams of two.

The goal is to assist families needing help during the statewide business closure and to make sure children in the East Wenatchee community have access to foods.

Free meals will be available through April 24, she said. Looking forward, “we’re ready to roll with whatever comes our way.”

Deanna Caggiano, a food service worker helping out the Wenatchee High School, said the community response to the free meals has been very positive. At one point, someone came by just to say “thank you,” she said.

Luke Hollister: 665-1172

Hollister@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @lukeholli