Churches may save Johnstown summer lunch program

JOHNSTOWN — Religious entities might step in for the Greater Johnstown School District and feed school children this summer because the district isn’t conducting the free National School Summer Lunch Program this year.

District Superintendent Patricia Kilburn reported to the Board of Education Thursday at Johnstown High School that she has contacted the area Council of Churches to determine if it can help fill the void.

The board decided recently not to bring back the summer lunch program because of planned capital construction projects, saying they were looking at alternatives.

Officials added that the capital projects may extend into summer 2018, so the district may have to make a similar decision then.

The district decided in 2015 to opt out of the summer program, but had talked of bringing it back for 2017.

Kilburn told the board last month she looked at the federal guidelines for the summer meals program. With so much construction pending, she said the program isn’t doable at city school building campuses for either food preparation or serving.

But the superintendent told the board Thursday that the Council of Churches is looking into possible sites for free lunches. on behalf of city school children.

“They’re exploring other options,” Kilburn said.

She said she will know more about the lunch options by the board’s next meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 26 at Knox Junior High School.

Kilburn said the Johnstown Teachers Association — the faculty union — may also be helping to some degree.

“We will need some local fundraising to help us with that,” she said.

But she said the district is still exploring what it legally can and can’t do in providing food to city school children in the absence of the School Lunch Program this summer.

Elsewhere in her superintendent’s report, Kilburn said the Johnstown district was given the Utica National Insurance Group’s School Safety Excellence Award.

She said the group measured various safety aspects of the districts, such as playground safety.

“They use quantifiable surveys,” Kilburn said.

She thanked the district’s Buildings and Grounds Department, as well as all staff, for helping to contribute to the safety award.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Chad Fleck

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