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Published: Thu, June 21, 2012 @ 12:06 a.m.

Program at Austintown schools offers free meals through summer


Dominic Hurd, 2, has macaroni and cheese at Woodside Elementary School in the Austintown School District on Wednesday.

By Elise Franco



An increase in the overall poverty level at Austintown schools allows the district to offer free breakfast and lunch through the summer months.

This year the district saw the number of students on free and reduced lunch increase to 50 percent, said Tascin Brooks, director of food services.

Brooks said the district qualified for the free breakfast and lunch summer program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture using data from the Census Bureau.

Woodside Elementary is about 82 percent impoverished, with Watson Elementary, Austintown Fitch and Austintown Middle School at about 67 percent, Brooks said. Lloyd Elementary is about 41 percent and Lynn Kirk Elementary is 18 percent. Data for Frank Ohl Intermediate School wasn’t available Wednesday afternoon.

“We have different economic areas in this town, and some are in a tougher situation than others,” Brooks said.

The program runs Monday through Friday until Aug. 16.

Breakfast is served from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. at Austintown Middle School and from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. at Woodside Elementary. Lunch is from noon to 1:15 p.m. at AMS and 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Woodside.

She said this type of program is needed in Austintown because it will keep children nourished and healthy during the summer and will give parents options for feeding their kids.

Any child 18 years or younger is allowed to participate in the meals, as well as any adults with disabilities, Brooks said.

“Even if we just help one family, it’s worth it,” she said. “We had one woman who came in on the first day who said she didn’t know how she would feed her children during the summer because her work hours were drastically cut.”

Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said students seem to be taking advantage of the program so far. He said many of the kids are part of summer programs, and he expects a higher turnout once sports teams and extracurricular groups return to campus for summer practices.

“It’s working really well, and there are students in the building,” he said. “Camp Woodside is going on right now, so those students are there, and summer-school students are eating.”

Brooks said the program’s budget is $90,000, which is reimbursed by the USDA. She said that money is used only for food and meal supplies.

The district is responsible for paying eight food-service employees — two seven-hour managers, four three-hour kitchen staff and two sweeper-cleaners — which costs a total of $23,000 through the end of the program, Brooks said.

Brooks said the most important thing for people to remember is that the program is open to all children.

“I really just want people to use it,” she said. “I think a lot of people have that idea in their mind that it’s only for people who really need help, but it’s for everyone. There are no income requirements.”


1walter_sobchak(2717 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Schools are there to teach children the three "R's", not to suckle at the govt teat. My standard lunch was a chip-chop ham sammich, a banana, couple of cheap choc-chip cookies and milk that my mother showed me how to pack by the time I was in 3rd grade. With all the taxes we spend on free food in this country, this is misguided.

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2SunnySkies(20 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I totally agree with Youngstowntelegram. Macaroni and cheese? No wonder there is a huge rise in obesity and diabetes among children. I see this pushed all over the grocery stores. You just opened the door to a brand new headache for the school system. Announce that there are no requirements and everyone is welcome. That staff will then have to grow and cost the district more money, not to mention the cost of keeping the buildings open all year long. Why hire a babysitter when the school will take care of all your summer needs?

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3navygirl(14 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

You guys are really complaining about Mac and Cheese? You know there is only 400 calories and 3g fat in a cup of Mac and Cheese. It looks like that is what they are eating for the main course with other sides as vegetables.

I grew up on this kind of food and I'm not obese as a thriving adult. It's not what the kids eat always. How about having them play outside until they are tired instead of sitting and watching tv, playing video games or on the computer?

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4cambridge(4138 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

This is the type of program that the teabagger/republicans and romney want cut so they can give more tax cuts for the top 1%.

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5peacelover(839 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe how many of you find something to hate about a program that feeds low income children!

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

What class we have in this town
No wonder the GOP/TEA / KKK thugs
are so big and growing . They have so many empty heads and hearts full of hate to work with

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7DwightK(1537 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe so many of you are complaining about the program, the food and the utensils when the real problem is so many people in our community work and are STILL in need of these services. Too many people are barely holding it together despite being employed. Where are the good paying jobs?

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8Education_Voter(1174 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

How do you know it is fake mac & cheese just by looking.

Volney Rodgers serves home made mac&cheese, made with "government cheese" in a program to help farmers. But the cheese is delicious, comes in boxes marked "Land O Lakes".

The cheese is also used to make cheese sauce for broccoli that is the best I ever tasted. They make pinwheel rolls with part whole wheat homemade dough. This is kind of like a cinnamon role, but with cheese instead of cinnamon.

So this might be real mac & cheese.

They are making a lot of trash. Too bad. They must not have a dishwasher.

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