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Ticonderoga hopes to revive summer rec program

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Jack Michalak works on a project during the 2011 Ticonderoga summer youth recreation program. The program, which wasn’t held last year because of budget cuts, may return in 2013 if enough children register.

Jack Michalak works on a project during the 2011 Ticonderoga summer youth recreation program. The program, which wasn’t held last year because of budget cuts, may return in 2013 if enough children register.

— “It’ll be similar to the program we’ve had in past years,” she said. “I think it’s a real bargain for parents. Babysitting, supervised activities, breakfast and lunch for $10 a day.”

The key is the free breakfast, lunch and snack program, Iuliano said.

“This is a special, concerted effort to be a food distribution point in Ticonderoga,” he said. “We want to make certain our children have access to healthy food.”

Childhood hunger and poverty has become an issue in Ticonderoga. Nearly half the local school population qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches and almost 20 percent of Ticonderoga children live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census.

Iuliano has been working with John Bartlett of the Ti Kiwanis on the club’s “BackPack” program. That effort works closely with Ticonderoga Central Schools to send needy children from Ticonderoga Elementary School home for the weekends with backpacks filled with nutritious, shelf-stable and easily prepared foods.

“This is a way to address a serious problem in the community,” Bartlett said of the USDA free summer breakfast and lunch program. “The food program is free, but we must have a recreation program to qualify.”

Iuliano credited Mike Mascarenas of the county youth bureau with helping arrange to bring the USDA food program to Ticonderoga.

“Mike’s been an incredible asset,” Iuliano said. “He’s really helped lead us through the process.”

Bartlett suggested local civic groups, churches and individuals may like to sponsor a child in the program. If so, they can contact the town clerk’s office at 585-6677.

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