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Food for thought at Fredonia schools

Newsmaker of the month: Punishment after a good deed

A recent donation to pay off the debt of students who could not afford lunches at Fredonia Central School was met with gratitude and appreciation earlier this month by the community. In making the $2,000 donation, Pravin Patel’s giving spirit touched 140 students and families who had outstanding lunch balances.

“I thank you for the district. Some of these lunch balances are from families who are not able to afford them,” said school board President Brian Aldrich. “I know that when students aren’t hungry, they learn better. And that’s a benefit to our whole school system.”

His generosity, however, does not solve the larger, pressing problem. Students in the Fredonia district, in some cases, continue to be refused lunches if they have a negative balance on their cafeteria card.

That is just not acceptable.

Fredonia faces a double-edged sword. It is one of the wealthier districts in our region. Thus, it does not qualify to provide free lunch for all its students that is currently taking place in Silver Creek, Dunkirk, Brocton and other county districts.

If you want a barometer on how wealthy a region is, take a look at its schools. The reduced and free-lunch item on the annual report card can be a real eye-opener. One of the poorest districts in our area is Ripley, where 73% of the students qualify for reduced and free lunches. In Fredonia, according to the state Education Department, that percentage is about half at 37%.

Aldrich is correct in his sentiment about learning. But if students are being refused lunches by the district, what is the recourse and what message or stigma that comes with it?

Our appreciation to Patel, but shame on Fredonia for allowing this practice to even occur.

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