Massena school district surveying families about school meal program

Bob Beckstead, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
·2 min read

Feb. 20—MASSENA — A survey is underway in the Massena Central School District to get more information from families about their participation in the school meal program.

The survey is being done as part of a Nutrition Hubs grant received by the district. Among the district's objectives are to improve the school lunch program and increase student participation in the school meal program by 25% by November, and they need feedback from district parents and guardians to help with the effort.

"The big goal for the school will be to increase participation in the USDA lunch program the rest of this year and also increase our participation in our free and reduced lunch program for next year," Community Schools Director Kristin Colarusso-Martin told Board of Education members in January.

Among the questions asked in the survey are what school the child attends, and what avenue they use to get information about the child's school, including emails, text messages, Raider the ChatBot, Class Dojo, the child's backpack folder, Facebook or school website.

It also asks if the child eats at school or gets meals from the school; why they do or don't eat meals at school or obtain them through a bag lunch distribution; and, if they don't eat meals at school or obtain them through the bag lunch distribution, what would make them more likely to do so in the future.

District officials also want to know if the child will eat meals at school after returning to in-person learning; whether the parent or guardian completes a school meal application each year and, if not, why; and if they would be willing to talk to someone for more information about the school meal program.

Surveys must be completed by Feb. 28 at

The district received a $50,000 grant from the No Kid Hungry organization, allowing it to become a Nutrition Hub and help it address food needs in the district. The grant runs from January until the end of December, crossing two school years.

The district is using the funding to hire a project coordinator "who will assess existing food assistance programs and identify barriers to participation for low income families," the district's proposal said.

It continued, "The Coordinator will work with school administrators and community agencies to increase participation in food assistance programs. This will be done through increased collaboration among agencies and streamlined communication to low income families with an emphasis on sustainable solutions."

The district is partnering with Sarah Bentley-Garfinkel from the St. Lawrence Health Initiative, who is working within the district as a 0.5 full-time employee for the next year, including the summer.