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Feeding school kids in the summer; Monticello serves over 3,400 meals per day

By Fritz Mayer
July 9, 2014

MONTICELLO, NY — For some school-aged children, the best and perhaps only meal they will have all day is the one they get at school. The need is no less great in the summer when school is not in session. That’s why the Monticello School District has expanded its summer food service meal program, which from June 30 through August 15 will be available for free to any children in the district under 18 years of age.

The program comes with a few rules: all meals must be eaten at the location at which they are served, and young children must be accompanied by an adult.

The program is part of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the New York State Education Department (NYSED.) According to information on the NYSED website, “SFSP sites, located in and drawing their attendance from an area where at least 50% of the children are from households eligible for free or reduced price school meals, can qualify to receive SFSP reimbursement for up to two meals served to children at the site.” In Sullivan County the school districts that meet that requirement are Monticello, Fallsburg, Liberty, Livingston Manor, TriValley and Sullivan County BOCES.

Monticello’s program director, Chef Andy Yeomans, said there is a lot of need for the meals in Monticello; the state classifies the village as a “food desert” because of a lack of grocery stores and farm markets. Without the program, Yeomans said there is little doubt that some students in the district would go hungry. “After being there for a couple of years,” Yeomans said, “you get a feel for who’s going to eat in the off-season and who’s not, and there are quite a few that run the serious risk of just not having enough to eat.”

Yeomans said the program would provide 1,600 to 1,700 breakfast meals and that many lunch meals to people under 18. The student population of the Monticello Central School District is just under 3,000 students.

This year, the program has grown from nine to 14 food distribution sites. Both breakfast and lunch will be served, with the exception of the Dillon Park Pool location, which will serve lunch only. For the second year, hot food will be served for lunch and include fresh roast turkey with gravy and real mashed potatoes, fresh pizza, cheeseburgers and more.