October 25, 2021

Summer lunch programs return

At the height of the pandemic last summer, Kelly Neville would bag about 250 breakfast and lunches to give out to children in Groton as part of the national Summer Food Service Program.

With some lingering food insecurity and more kids taking part in summer camps, Neville, the food service director for Groton’s school district, said Tuesday she expects that number to increase.

“There’s a lot more food insecurity during the summer than the school year,” she said.

Local non-profit organizations and school districts will provide meals throughout the summer to children after the pandemic forced changes and cancellations last year.

In Cortland, Catholic Charities of Cortland County will provide free meals to all children. The organization also will partner with the Cortland Enlarged School District to provide meals at Penguin Trailer Park; Rickard Street Apartments and the former Virgil Elementary School, said Colin Moore, the program manager for family and community services at Catholic Charities.

“I’m pretty excited to go to these new places,” he said of the locations as part of the partnership with the school district. Moore said he expects the demand for food to increase with the centralized locations, specifically at the parks.

New this year will be for children to leave the site after getting their food; they stayed to eat in prior years.

Moore was not sure why the change was made but said it could be COVIDrelated. Additionally, he wasn’t sure if COVID protocols would be in place.

The United Way of Cortland County, while less hands on in-providing food this year than last year, will still support organizations like Catholic Charities and food pantries this summer, said Executive Director Christella Yonta. The United Way worked with food banks to have food drives last summer to fill the need for food, she said.

This was also increased with Catholic Charities not having its summer lunch program, with people instead relying on food giveaways by the Cortland Enlarged City School District, Yonta said.

“We’re just making sure the programs can still operate and keep running with the resources they need,” she said.

Neville said anyone 18 and younger can get food at the Groton program.

Until the program begins Tuesday, Neville said families in Groton have been getting food from the local pantry and from the food giveaways hosted by the Groton Public Library.

With another busy summer of feeding kids ahead, Neville said she’s ready.

“I feel like if we can provide this program, why wouldn’t we?” she said.


  • Text FOOD to 877877 and a list of sites will be sent to your phone.
  • Call the Summer Food Service Program hotline at 866-3HUNGRY.
  • Go to www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids for an interactive map.

Catholic Charities of Cortland County will host food giveaways:

  • Suggett Park: Tuesday to Aug. 27, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
  • Barry School: Tuesday to Aug. 27, 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Randall Park: July 12 to Aug. 6, 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
    The Cortland Enlarged City School District, with partnership of Catholic Charities, plans food giveaways from 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Penguin Trailer Park: Every Monday beginning July 12.
  • Rickard Street Apartments: Every Tuesday beginning Tuesday.
  • Virgil School: Every Wednesday beginning Wednesday.


  • The district will deliver every Tuesday and Thursdays to registered families. To register, go to www.dryden.k12.ny.us.

Tuesday 6 to Aug. 13:

  • Groton Elementary School: Breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m.; lunch from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Main Street Pavilion: 9 to 10:30 a.m.


  • 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday beginning July 5 to July 30 at the elementary and high school cafeterias