Medora students to receive free meals, textbooks, Chromebooks in 2022-23

MEDORA — When it comes to back-to-school expenses, Medora students and families won’t have much for the 2022-23 school year.

Medora Community School Corp. recently announced meals, books and Chromebooks will be free.

Plus, they had an opportunity to pick up free school supplies, backpacks, shoes and more and get free immunizations and haircuts during an event Thursday night.

Junior-senior high school Principal Kara Hunt said free breakfast and lunch will be provided by the corporation receiving a Community Eligibility Provision grant.

The program was introduced in the 2021-22 school year to give schools an opportunity to provide free meals. It’s an alternative to collecting, approving and verifying household eligibility applications for free and reduced price eligible students in high-poverty local educational agencies for schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, according to the Indiana Department of Education website.

To be eligible, the LEA must have one or more schools with an identified student percentage of 40% or greater on the direct certified list, which means students or other household members who receive food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Medicaid.

The LEA and school must agree to offer all enrolled students breakfast and lunch at no cost and cover any cost above the federal reimbursement received with nonfederal funds.

CEP is approved for four successive school years with an option annually to return to traditional meal counting and claiming procedures.

Corporation Treasurer Teresa Brewer completed Medora’s application for this program.

“As an administration, it is a top priority to ensure our teachers and students have everything they need to be academically successful. Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch supports that,” Hunt said.

All new textbooks for students in kindergarten through 12th grade were purchased during the summers of 2021 and 2022 through various grants that the corporation applied for and received, Hunt said.

Superintendent Roger Bane worked on securing those funds, and Title I, managed by Medora STEM Academy Principal Austin Skutnik, provided some money to purchase textbooks that weren’t covered by the grants. Hunt, meanwhile, worked with teachers to select textbooks and took care of the ordering process.

The Booker Foundation pays for technology that is purchased, including Chromebooks, Hunt said. That’s a local fund that sets aside money for the school.

Chromebooks were implemented during the 2019-20 school year for all grade levels and were purchased by funds from the foundation. Hunt said Bane and Darrell Persinger, the corporation’s technology specialist, have a plan to replace Chromebooks each year for select grade levels.

“Currently, skyrocketing inflation and gas prices have made it hard for many families to make ends meet. We want to make sure our students and the children in our school community don’t have to sacrifice as a result of the tough economic times,” Hunt said. “Anything we can do as a school to make it easier on families in our community is a top priority of myself and the entire administration.”

The rest of the free offerings were available during the Rock’n Ready event held Thursday at the school. That’s part of a Jackson County United Way initiative that collects school supplies to ensure students around the county are ready to start a new school year.

Hunt said this was the second year she has worked with Shoe Sensation in Seymour to give students a chance to sign up for free shoes.

“Shoe Sensation provides the shoes at a discounted cost. In addition, local churches and individuals donate to help pay for the shoes, and they are passed out at the Rock n’ Ready event,” she said. “This year, we have 112 students signed up to receive new tennis shoes for school.”

Thursday night’s attendees also received free personal care items donated by local churches and individuals. That included toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant and soap.

Plus, immunizations, haircuts and resources and information provided by community partners were available.

“They say it takes a village, and I believe that is true,” Hunt said. “It takes a village, the entire community, to make this event so successful for our students.”