Saratoga Springs School District to Vote on Free Student Meals – The Daily Gazette

WILTON — With a large surplus in its food service, the Saratoga Springs City School District is looking to provide its nearly 6,000 enrolled students with free breakfasts and lunches through the end of the school year.

School board member Erika Borman pitched the idea to the full board at its Thursday night meeting after the district determined it had saved about $832,000 in food service through conservation measures. reduced costs, such as food contracts and other efficiencies.

“We heard loud and clear from our families how important this is,” Superintendent Michael Patton said at the meeting.

The federal government stopped providing free meals to all public school students under the pandemic-era relief program over the summer, forcing students whose families met certain eligibility requirements in terms of income to apply for the free and reduced meals program.

Patton said the district is not only starting to see students with negative balances, but has also seen more students requesting free or reduced meals so far this academic year.

It will cost more than $1.1 million to provide each student with free meals. To cover the gap, the district will use about $283,000 in COVID relief funds, Patton said.

“The only hesitation is that if the council were to go ahead and adopt this plan at our next meeting, we must inform our families that this is a local decision,” he said. “We hope that over the next few months the federal government or the state government will continue the dialogue and have a conversation about support moving forward.”

Patton said without any state or federal assistance, the district would not be able to provide such a program next year.

At the elementary level, breakfast is $2 and lunch is $3, Patton said. In middle school, breakfast is $2 and lunch is $3.25, while in high school breakfast is $2.25 and lunch is $3.

School board member Amanda Ellithorpe said she was recently at a meeting of the Carolina Street Parent-Teacher Association and learned that 30% of students in that area participate in the free or reduced lunch program.

“Which is almost double what it was before COVID,” she said.

Patton said there were 241 requests for free and reduced lunches this year. There are 1,158 students who are directly certified to participate in the program with a total of 1,399 students receiving free lunches.

Board Vice-Chair Natalya Lakhtakia said she fully supports the measure.

“I’m really, really excited for this to happen,” she said. “In my opinion, this is something that our state should definitely vote on and our federal government should definitely vote on. I think we should have nationalized universal breakfast and lunch.

The board is expected to vote on the measure at its Oct. 13 meeting, which will take place at Geyser Road Elementary School.

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