Deerfield Academy donates $25K to Frontier, Union 38 meal program

  • Deerfield Academy administration building. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/26/2020 11:28:05 AM
Modified: 12/26/2020 11:27:54 AM

DEERFIELD – Deerfield Academy donated $25,000 last week to the Frontier Regional and Union 38 school districts to help reduce the funding gap in the meal program that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thank Deerfield Academy for their timely and generous donation,” Superintendent Darius Modestow said in a statement. “I also want to thank our dedicated kitchen staff, who worked tirelessly to get healthy meals out to all those in need during this challenging time.”

Prior to the pandemic, students paid for food unless they qualified for free or reduced-price meals, Business Administrator Shelley Poreda previously explained. Now, breakfast and lunch are free to all district students as part of a program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which started when the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep the nation.

Poreda said the school districts receive reimbursement from the state and federal governments, but it is not enough to avoid a deficit.

Earlier this month, Poreda anticipated around $100,000 less in revenue.

“We made this commitment because it is right, and while the meal program is subsidized by the USDA Universal Free Meals program, operational costs have exceeded those funds,” Modestow said.

Head of School John Austin said Deerfield Academy learned of the districts’ financial situation through an article in The Recorder.

“One of our trustees brought it to our attention” Austin said. “We asked our CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Keith Finan to reach out to Darius to speak to him to get a sense of the land there.”

Austin said after seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the financial model over the last eight months, they recognized “there was a need.”

“If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that communities need to stay together and to help one another. We were really happy to contribute, even modestly, to help meet the shortfall the school is experiencing, so they don’t have to dig into other programs for the kids.”

Modestow said the funds would be divided between the Deerfield Elementary School and Frontier Regional High School.

Finan, Deerfield Academy’s CFO and associate head of school for operations, said in a statement that he and Austin are “happy” to help lessen the burden on their fellow town residents.

“It has been a challenging year for all of us,” he said, “and I have a pretty good idea of just how hard Darius and his team have been working to provide for the community in these difficult times.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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