The federal stimulus bill will be helping stimulate some appetites – and helping alleviate the economic crunch – in 74 New York State yeshiva sites in coming months. Nearly a sixth of $6 million the state will be receiving for “equipment assistance” to elementary and secondary public and nonpublic schools will assist yeshivos.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) – the stimulus bill – included a one-time appropriation of $100 million for equipment assistance to public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools across the nation currently participating in the National School Lunch Program.
According to the ARRA, states were required to distribute these funds through a competitive grant process based on the need for equipment assistance, with priority given to schools where 50% or more of the student body is eligible for free and reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act.
Eligible schools filed requests for food service equipment like “prep tables,” cooking equipment, refrigeration units, mixers, slicers, food processors, hot/cold holding equipment and dishwashing equipment, among others, in the range of $2000 to $20,000 per school.
Memoranda and newsletters from Agudath Israel of America’s Division of Yeshiva Services notified yeshivos throughout New York State and across the country about the grant and the application process for qualifying to receive equipment.
The New York State Education Department, which is administering the grant, received approximately 1400 application requests but was only able to award grants to 493 schools. Those schools will be notified by the State Education Department that they will be receiving part or all of their requests. The 74 New York yeshiva sites will, in aggregate, receive $980,380 from the funding the state received from the federal government.
Mrs. Deborah Zachai, Agudath Israel’s Director of Education Affairs, called the development “extremely welcome news for yeshivos in these difficult economic times.”
“The equipment purchased under this grant,” she continued, “should help make food production in yeshivos more efficient and allow service to run more smoothly.”
“It should also,” she added, “improve the quality of the food, something the students will surely appreciate.”