Unatego Central School to offer school supplies, free meals

·2 min read

Aug. 29—The Unatego Central School District will supply students with free school supplies, breakfast and lunch during the 2022-23 school year.

Unatego will provide basic supplies to all students in grades Pre-K through 12, a media release said.

Superintendent David Richards said a local large retailer, which didn't want to be named, donated supplies to the Sidney Elks Lodge, which in turn donated the supplies to the school district last year.

"Whatever they don't sell, they donate to local organizations," Richards said. It costs the company less money to donate the items than it does to ship them back to the warehouse, he said.

The supplies were stored at the school. District personnel discussed buying additional supplies so every student could get supplies, he said. "We decided at budget time it was doable," and it was included in the budget, he said. "It's our first year doing this."

Students will receive their paper, pencils, pens, crayons, notebooks, etc. the first day of school, Sept. 8, a media release said. "We've received positive comments from parents," Richards said

He said elementary students will receive more supplies than high school students as more assignments are done online at the high school level.

Students will still need to provide their own backpacks, sneakers for physical education class and smocks for art class, the release said.

Unatego will also continue to provide breakfast and lunch to all students, regardless of family income, at no cost to them or their families again for the 2022-2023 school year, the release said.

Richards said free breakfast started in 2018 and free lunch was offered beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

He said based on the general poverty level of the community, the district is a Community Eligibility Provision district.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's website a Community Eligibility Provision "allows the nation's highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)."

The district encourages students to participate in the school lunch program, the release said.

"I really believe it's true that providing a hot, nutritious meal helps students," he said. "Students learn better on a full stomach. For many kids, the only two hot meals they receive during the day are the ones we provide."

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar or 607-441-7221.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.