Elected Officials and City Staff Fight For Public School Food & Nutrition Distribution Site
MARGATE PUBLIC SCHOOLS – Mayor Tommy Ruzzano said the overlook “will not go unnoticed.” Commissioner Antonio Arserio called it “lip service” and Commissioner Anthony Caggiano said he was not pleased that all four Margate public schools were left from both phase 1 and phase 2 of food and nutrition distribution services. Vice Mayor Arlene Schwartz referred to the Broward School grab-and-go meal plan as “disproportionate.”
“This is truly a slap in the face,” Mayor Ruzzano told Broward School Superintendent, Robert Runcie, Friday.
Thanks to the efforts of the four, along with Margate city staff and Broward School Board Representative, Nora Rupert, Margate should see a food distribution site in the City within two weeks—or at least before the close of phase II April 15th.
Rupert said she questioned Runcie on the “pattern of decision-making” for distribution centers.
“Because I know the demographics there [Margate],” she told MargateNews.net Friday.
Rupert’s been advocating for Margate since phase I, which initially started with only seven schools countywide.
“He [Runcie] used the P word,” she said—he promised that a site would be added to Margate in the coming two weeks.
Similarly, Runcie shared with Commissioner Caggiano that Margate would be added in phase 3 with a start date undetermined.
“Phase III = 47 sites + Margate + Others,” Runcie communicated to Caggiano, along with Margate City Clerk, Joe Kavanagh and others on the commission.
Arserio, known to be relentless when going down a rabbit on municipal matters, didn’t settle for the answer he received from Broward Government Affairs official, Angel Gomez, who called the situation “unprecedented.” Gomez said his office was “capturing the ideas and feedback that are coming in from various constituents across our County.”
“Thanks for the update. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. Springs has 6 distribution sites, 2 of which are on the same street and literally a mile or less apart,” he told Gomez. “Even based on your analysis of free or reduced lunch used in determining the locations, one of those two schools could have serviced the ‘coverage area’ freeing up a school for Margate.”
“I’m now compelled to escalate this situation,” he wrote.
Schwartz, who had been in regular contact with school officials since phase I of distribution services, reached out to the school board’s food and nutrition services department directly.
“Today I received the updated list of schools offering food to the students of Broward County and I could not help but notice the disproportionate number of schools designated as distribution sites in neighboring Coral Springs, a city of approximately 116,000 people while there are none in Margate, a city with the population of 59,000,” she wrote Thursday.
City Manager, Cale Curtis, joined in on Thursday.
“For your reference, Margate’s per capita income is $26,333. Comparatively, the neighboring City of Coral Springs has 6 distribution points, yet their per capita income is much higher at $33,639. I recognize that Margate families are able to go to a neighboring City distribution point; however, many of Margate’s children and families rely upon public modes of transportation and/or live within walking/biking distance to their respective schools. A centrally located distribution point for Margate is needed to ensure all Margate’s children have access to this program,” he wrote to the Broward County School Board and Superintendent Runcie.
Messages to all who engaged Broward School officials were consistent at first, but changed later in the day Friday, when Ruzzano, Rupert and others moved the needle in favor of Margate schools.
“They [Broward school officials] will be having a school serving lunch within 2 weeks,” Ruzzano told MargateNews.net.
Margate Schools Left Behind in Phase 2 of Food & Nutrition Distribution. Sites Disproportionate to Poverty Levels.
Margate Yet to Have Public School Distribution Site for Free Meal Program