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Students & Families Thrive Thanks to Free Meal Program

Families in the Dunkirk City School District have one less financial burden to worry about during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is school lunch. Students in the district are enjoying free breakfast and lunch meals daily, whether they are learning in-person or remotely.

“We know a lot of families are struggling right now and we hope this gives the parents some peace of mind,” says Dunkirk CSD Sodexo General Manager, Karen Giardina. “We’re providing healthy, nutritious meals that are not only compliant with New York State regulations, but also that encourage kids to eat a variety of different foods and flavors.”

When learning in-person at any of the Dunkirk City School buildings, students enjoy a hot, ready-to-eat meal during their normally scheduled lunch period. On remote learning days, families are able to pick up fully-cooked, reheatable meals for their students. The reheatable meals also come with heating instructions in both English and Spanish.

Meals may be picked up between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the Middle School docking area on 5th Street and the School 3 docking area located on Monroe Street. These are the same two locations that the district used for summer meal distribution as well.

“We’ve worked very hard to make meal pick up as easy as possible for all of our families,” said School Business Administrator Cynthia Mackowiak. “We are working with Meals on Wheels to make sure families facing hardships that prevent them from being able to pick up still have access to their meals. Families that find themselves in a hardship situation should contact their child’s building principal.”

Because the Dunkirk City School District is a community eligible program district, every enrolled student is able to eat for free, regardless of financial need. Each day, the district feeds approximately 500 students and is reimbursed for the cost of each meal served. 

Students are only eligible for one free breakfast and one free lunch per day, therefore, families are not able to pick up meals on the same day that students are at school in person. Snacks and a la carte items do not qualify for this program and are currently unavailable for purchase since the district is not accepting cash payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One cannot overstate the importance of a healthy diet for our students,” says Dunkirk Superintendent Michael Mansfield. “I greatly appreciate the efforts of Cynthia Mackowiak, Karen Giardina and the employees of Sodexo, and our partners at Meals on Wheels. Thanks to their efforts, we are able to provide nutritious, healthy meals to our students. This helps families financially and contributes to the success of our students both in and out of the classroom.”


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