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School programs make thousands of meals

TRI-COUNTY AREA--Schools have been closed since March, but districts throughout the Finger Lakes have distributed tens of thousands of meals to students and many will continue that service uninterrupted into the summer. District officials say the service is vital, as many school districts in the region have more than 50 percent of their students on free or reduced lunches.
Kyle Bower, superintendent of the Hammondsport district, said continuing meal services through the summertime for students is very important.
"It's been huge, we have families that are in need and anything we can do to try to fill the void that was left by us not being in school is certainly needed for the community," said Bower. "We're glad to be able to provide those resources."
Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck said Dundee is committed to running their summer meal program for students.
"The only difference is that parents will have to sign a letter stating that they wish to continue their children in the summer meal program," Houck said, adding that she is already drafting a letter to be sent out to parents.
Howard Dennis, superintendent for Penn Yan, said the meal program during the summer will change slightly since the district is partnering with Milly's Pantry to help provide breakfast and lunch for students.
"We have serviced 29,700 meals during the pandemic," Dennis said.
In Hammondsport, roughly 17,000 meals have been distributed during the same time. Dundee district officials distribute hundreds of meals per week and reported they were at 7,000 meals a little more than five weeks ago.
In Penn Yan, Dennis said there will be multiple pick-up points and parents who are unable to make it can arrange delivery through Milly's Pantry.
Hammondsport is offering a week's worth of prepackaged meals at one site one day a week from July 1-Aug.14. Bower said the school year meal program will end mid-June, resulting in a two-week lull where students will be unable to get meals through the district.
In Dundee, district officials say that there will be multiple pick-up points and the district is looking into a drop-off program and will continue throughout the summer to Sept. 2.
Multiple officials throughout the districts said that while the districts are not receiving money upfront to provide meals throughout the summer, they do expect that the state will honor its commitment to reimburse the districts for the meals that will be distributed during that time.

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