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The Randolph Foundation for Education (RFE) announced their second program, the “Delroy Fund,” to fill the Randolph Public School’s $4,000+ annual budget gap on free-and-reduced-price meals for students.
“The Delroy Fund is partly funded now, and we have asked large-scale meal providers around Randolph — like McDonald’s and Dunkin’s — to contribute,” says Jesse Gordon, the RFE president. “And we’re circulating a petition for residents to sign, to fill the budget gap permanently, by changing Randolph’s state reimbursement method.”
The petition seeks to enroll Randolph in the Commonwealth’s “Community Eligibility Option,” which waives meal fees for all children regardless of income status, and provides free breakfast and lunch at every public school for every student. The budget gap arises because some parents of otherwise eligible students fail to provide the required state and federal paperwork. Hence each year, the school administration is left with about $4,000 to $5,000 of unreimbursed meal expenses. A “Petition to School Committee,” as defined by the Town Charter, requires a public discussion by the School Committee after 150 registered voters are certified to have signed.
“The current system puts the burden on parents to provide the paperwork, and some parents refuse because they want to minimize their contact with the federal government,” says Bruce Pontbriand, an RFE board member and former Randolph School Committee member. “Our proposal would shift the paperwork burden from parents to the school administration – with the advantage that each and every student would receive free breakfast and lunch at school, instead of only some students receiving reduced price meals.”
The Boston public schools already apply the system proposed for Randolph. A school district is eligible if 80% of the students in the district qualify for free- or reduced-price meals. Randolph qualifies. The RFE petition recommends that the Randolph school district apply for the program in October, when the federal paperwork is due.
“Both parts of this program are great examples of creative fund-raising,” says Kathleen Camara, another RFE Board Member. “Jesse and the RFE have pushed for Randolph to seek more outside grants like this one – and people said it could not be done – we will work to identify more outside grants beyond this one!”
The Delroy Fund is named after Delroy Gordon (no relation to Jesse Gordon), a Randolph social activist who passed away last year. Delroy was the husband of Ida Gordon, the current School Committee president, who is also a board member of the Randolph Foundation for Education. Last year, the outgoing school superintendent, Thomas Anderson, informed the Randolph Foundation about the ongoing budget shortfall in the school meals program, and sought their help.
“The Randolph Foundation is fund-raising to fill the gap short-term. You can help by asking large restaurants to donate – and if they don't know about the program, give them this article,” says Jesse Gordon. “And we are working to fill the gap long-term with our petition. You can help by signing the petition, which is available on our website by clicking on the Delroy Fund button.”
The Randolph Foundation for Education is 501(c)(3)-pending, so donations are tax deductible. The RFE can be reached via their website www.RandolphFoundation.org or by mail at P.O. Box 530, Randolph MA 02368.
Photo of Delroy Fund Gala at Elks Lodge on Sunday Aug. 11
(Article adapted from the Randolph Journal-Sun article published Aug. 1, 2019 on the Randolph Foundation for Education’s gala)
Randolph School Committee chair Ida Gordon spoke at the July 29 Randolph Town Council meeting for a personal request: a benefit she helped organize on behalf of the Randolph Foundation for Education in honor of her late husband, Delroy.
Gordon asked for permission for the first annual Delroy Fund Gala to raise funds to provide after-school snacks for students and athletes which was held at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Elks Lodge, 21 School St.
“My husband, Delroy, passed away approximately a year ago,” she said. “Because it was close to the anniversary to his death, I wanted to do something with my friends and family. One thing that Delroy stood for was helping children,” she said. “Oftentimes I would go down in the morning for breakfast, and I saw that he would go out of the way to bring kids breakfast from our refrigerator. Soon after he would go back to the supermarket and replace (the food).”
“My goal for this is to support after-school snacks,” Gordon continued. “The kids practice after school for football or basketball or play in a baseball game, or just stay to study until 4 or 5 o’clock,” said Gordon, who coaches after-school baseball. “I would look at them, and they would be starving. I’ve always gone over to the Shaw’s and buy loaves of bread, packs of baloney, and some soda.”
She later started buying pizza, noting that traveling to games takes 90 minutes. Funding raised for after-school food would be available for students at Randolph High School, Gordon said.
There was a meal, raffles and dancing at the gala. Tickets cost $50, and $25 for seniors. Donations can be made until this Friday online at www.randolphfoundation.org.
The council did not discuss the matter raised by Gordon last week, but nodded in approval during her presentation. “The council was very receptive,” Gordon said in a subsequent interview. “My concern is that they go off and play sports on empty stomachs. How can they participate if their energy level is low?”
Gordon said that she and her husband always were determined to make sure that the children were fed. “I am doing this to make children’s lives better,” she said. “For example, a football team would need 20-something after-school meals. The cafeteria could assist in the preparation.”
This is not the first time the RFE has sought to help Randolph’s schoolchildren. The RFE’s “Teacher Mini-Grant program” has provided reimbursement for teacher’s classroom expenses, for a dozen projects, at all of Randolph’s six public schools.
The non-profit RFE also started a petition to enroll Randolph in the Commonwealth’s Community Eligibility Option, which waives meal fees for all children regardless of income and provides free breakfast and lunch for every student. It was recently was certified successfully.
The Randolph Foundation for Education’s gala raised enough net proceeds to donate over $1,000 to the Randolph schools. RFE President Jesse Gordon notes, “We would like to donate more to the schools in this round, so we are leaving the online donation page open until this Friday.” The website is www.RandolphFoundation.org/Delroy.htm and after Friday, checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 530, Randolph MA 02368.
At the gala: RFE President Jesse Gordon; Town Councilor Ken Clifton; RFE member Mary Barrett; RFE director Judith Conway; RFE Treasurer Ken Dunn, RFE member Bruce Pontbriand
Before the gala: Jesse Gordon submits Charter Petition for free school meals program to Acting Town Clerk Cheryl Sass
Randolph Foundation for Education, P.O. Box 530, Randolph MA 02368
Email to: info @ RandolphFoundation . org
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