November 27, 2021

Schools, groups work to provide food during summer

Keeping the children fed

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Melissa Olmstead gives a bag of food to Kalman Poland Jr. Friday in front of Cortland Junior-Senior High School. School districts and other organizations are working on plans to keep children fed this summer during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the school year nears its end, districts and other groups are trying to figure out how they will feed kids through the summer during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Cortland Enlarged City School District, plans have not been formalized as the district awaits an application from the state’s Child Nutrition office, said Kim Vile, the district’s business administrator.

Part of the application would include details such as when and where the district would be able to provide food to kids.

“We hope to continue something similar to what we have right now this summer,” she said.

The district provides meals for pick up weekdays from eight sites in the city.

School districts will discuss more details in the coming weeks as part of the county’s Hunger Coalition, said Susan Williams, the assistant director of Seven Valleys Health Coalition, which runs the coalition, which works to assure access to nutritious food.

Part of that access is making sure people get information on food pickups, whether at local food pantries or at schools.

That means having the organizations communicate and update information on websites like 211 Cortland, which provides information on resources and services.

“A lot of what happens right now is the opportunity for organizations to talk about what we’re doing and working to collaborate together so we’re not duplicating services,” Williams said.

Seven Valleys Health Coalition plans to send out food maps with locations of school meals so parents can get food through the summer.

Cortland Chenango Rural Services Inc., a non-profit in Cincinnatus that helps people in Willet, Pitcher, Solon, Freetown and German, will continue its No Child Hungry program through the summer, said Executive Director Joanne Brown-Garringer.

Throughout the school year, the organization would send food to students on Fridays to last them through the weekend, she said.

This year, with COVID-19 changing food arrangements, school buses from the Cincinnatus Central School District would deliver their food to recipients when the buses went out for delivering to their students in the district.

Beginning July 6, food deliveries to students’ homes will stop but the school will still provide meals, according to a letter from Superintendent Todd Freeman, although details still need to be worked out.

On the district’s last day to deliver meals — June 26 — Brown-Garringer will send out fliers telling parents the organization will provide meals on Fridays through the summer, which it hasn’t done in years past, she said.

“We want to be able to continue helping the kids throughout the summer,” Brown- Garringer said.

Food will also be available by appointment to pick up weekdays from the organization’s pantry.

“We certainly hope to continue to help provide nutritious food for the kids,” she said.