Since state and regional leaders abruptly closed schools across New York amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, school districts in Madison and Oneida counties have provided thousands of breakfasts and lunches to students in their communities. It is just one of the ways schools continue to support families and embrace their role as essential community partners.
“The education leaders in our region understand that schools meet many critical needs, and one of those is providing food,” MOBOCES District Superintendent Scott Budelmann said. “Many families rely on schools to provide two meals a day to students, and the schools in our region did a fantastic job of quickly planning and mobilizing efforts to continue providing those meals while schools are closed.”
MOBOCES component districts are: Camden, Canastota, Hamilton, Madison, Morrisville-Eaton, Oneida, Rome, Stockbridge Valley and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill. Those districts collectively provided nearly 24,000 meals to children in their communities from March 23 through 27 and more than 37,000 meals since schools closed March 16. That equals an average of more than 3,700 breakfasts and lunches per day across the region. School meals are available to any child in the community age 18 and under whether or not they regularly attend that school.
“I can’t thank my food service staff enough for all they have done for our students and families,” Stockbridge Valley Superintendent Cindy Stocker said. “They, too, are among the essential workers that are supporting the health and well-being of others – and they do it with a smile and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Based upon each community’s needs, districts are using a combination of pickup sites and bus deliveries to homes to ensure students are fed.
Canastota is one of the districts utilizing both methods to increase its reach – holding an at-school pickup for those who live close by and sending buses to deliver meals to those who live farther away.
“We did not want transportation to be a barrier to our students getting meals,” Canastota Superintendent Shawn Bissetta said. “Our food service and transportation teams have been incredible, many of our administrators help load the food and make deliveries, and it has been a great team effort.
“Our community has let us know how appreciative they are of this effort.”
Camden is taking a different approach to ensure their students are fed. They have partnered with the Food for Thought organization in Taberg, which is delivering family food boxes to more than 400 students from 260 families each week. The district purchased 4,500 pounds of canned soup and vegetables to support the deliveries and plans to purchase fresh produce and other items moving forward. In addition, about a dozen district employees are volunteering at Food for Thought.
“The people involved in taking care of others in our Camden community are heroes,” Superintendent Dr. Ravo Root said in a message to his staff. “I am so proud of the many ongoing efforts to care for others in need.”
Madison-Oneida BOCES cooperatively and responsibly provides educationally focused programs and services that enable learners to excel. The Madison-Oneida BOCES serves students from Camden, Canastota, Hamilton, Madison, Morrisville-Eaton, New York State School for the Deaf, Oneida, Rome, Stockbridge-Valley and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill. Visit us at moboces.org.