Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf 2018-2019 Meal Charge and Prohibition Against Meal Shaming Policy

  1. Purpose

The goal of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf  is to provide student access to nutritious no- or low-cost meals each school day and to ensure that a pupil whose parent/guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not shamed or treated differently than a pupil whose parent/guardian does not have unpaid meal fees.

Unpaid charges place a large financial burden on our school. The purpose of this policy is to insure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program and, and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances to ensure that the student is not stigmatized, distressed or embarrassed.

The intent of this policy is to establish procedures to address unpaid meal charges throughout the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf in a way that does not stigmatize, distress or embarrass students. The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced reimbursable school breakfast, lunch and snack meals only. Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf  provides this policy as a courtesy to those students in the event that they forget or lose their money.  Charging of items outside of the reimbursable meals (a la carte items, adult meals, etc.) is expressly prohibited.

  1. Policy

Free Meal Benefit – Free eligible students will be allowed to receive a free breakfast and lunch meal of their choice each day.   A la carte items or other similar items must be paid/prepaid.

Reduced Meal Benefit – Reduced eligible students will be allowed to receive a breakfast of their choice for $0.25 and lunch of their choice for  $0.25 each day. The charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals available to all students, unless the student’s parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the school to withhold a meal.  A la carte items or other similar items must be paid/prepaid.

Full Pay Students – Students will pay for meals at the school’s published paid meal rate each day.  The charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals available to all students, unless the student’s parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the school to withhold a meal.  A la carte items or other similar items must be paid/prepaid.


  • Staff will be trained annually and throughout the year as needed on the procedures for managing meal charges using the NYSED Webinar or the school’s training program.
  • Staff training includes ongoing eligibility certification for free or reduced price meals.


  • Parents/guardians will be notified that a student’s meal card or account balance is exhausted and has accrued meal charges within 15 days of the charge and then every month


  • Staff will communicate with parents/guardians with five or more meal charges to determine eligibility for free or reduced price meals.
  • School staff will make two documented attempts to reach out to parents/guardians to complete a meal application in addition to the application and instructions provided in the school enrollment packet.
  • School staff will contact the parent/guardian to offer assistance with completion of meal application to determine if there are other issues within the household causing the child to have insufficient funds, offering any other assistance that is appropriate.


  • School will not publicly identify or stigmatize any student on the line or discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of any other students.
  • Studunts who incur meal charges will not be required to wear a wristband or handstamp, or to do chores or work to pay for meals.
  • Schools will not throw away a meal after it has been served because of the student’s inability to pay for the meal or because of previous meal charges.
  • Schools will not take any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal fees.
  • Schools will deal directly with parents/guardians regarding unpaid school meal fees.


  • School staff will conduct direct certification with NYSSIS or using NYSED Roster Upload to maximize free eligibility. NYSED provides updated direct certification data monthly.
  • School staff will provide parents/guardians with free and reduced price application and instructions at the beginning of each school year in school enrollment packet.
  • Schools using electronic meal application will provide an explanation of the process in the school enrollment packet and instructions on how to request a paper application at no cost.
  • Schools will provide at least two additional free and reduced price applications throughout the school year to families identified as owing meal charges.
  • Schools will use administrative prerogative judiciously, only after using exhaustive efforts to obtain a completed application from the parent/guardian only with available information on family size and income that falls within approvable guidelines.
  • Schools will coordinate with the foster, homeless, migrant, runaway coordinators to certify eligible students. School liaisons required for homeless, foster, and migrant students shall coordinate with the nutrition department to make sure such students receive free school meals, in accordance with federal law.

Students/Parents/Guardians may pay for meals in advance via a check payable to Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf or cash placed in a sealed envelope with student’s name on it.   Funds are then entered into our NutriKids Program to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day. Notices will be sent home to parents informing them that the student’s funds are almost depleted and requesting additional funds.   Any remaining funds for a particular student may/will be carried over to the next school year.

Refunds for withdrawn, and graduating students; a written or e-mailed request for a refund of any money remaining in their account must be submitted.  Students who are graduating at the end of the year will be given the option to transfer to a sibling’s account with a written request.

Unclaimed Funds must be requested within one school year. Unclaimed funds will then become the property of the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf’s Food Service Program.


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Mill Neck Sails the Sound for Deafness

The Mill Neck Family of Organizations held its annual Sail the Sound for Deafness Regatta & Summer Soirée on Thursday, Aug. 9. 2018. Oakliff Sailing made their fleet available for an exciting race around Oyster Bay and into the Sound. Sailors participated with their own boats and spectators watched from The WaterFront Center’s showpiece Christeen—the oldest oyster sloop in North America.

After the race was over, around 200 guests arrived for a summer soirée at the historic Mill Neck Manor—a spectacular Tudor Revival Mansion—featuring great food and drinks from top restaurants in the area, live music, raffles, a silent auction from Steiner Sports and much more.

One of the evening’s highlights was the announcement of the regatta and restaurant winners: first place in the sailing race went to Banzai with Don Woodworth and the Golden Galley Award for the top restaurant went to the Green Pear Catering.

Without the endless dedicated support, this event would not be possible. The Mill Neck Family wishes to thank our co-hosts, Oakcliff Sailing Center, The WaterFront Center and Oyster Bay Marine Center, as well as these generous event sponsors: (Landlubber Sponsors) Lamb and Barnosky, LLP; BNC Contracting, Inc.; TNT Industries Construction Services; R.S. Abrams & Co., LLP; (Trophy Sponsor) Core BTS; (Skipper Sponsor) O’Keefe Plumbing and Heating; (Captain Sponsors) Toshiba Business Solutions and Pickney Electric.

We also acknowledge our food and beverage sponsors: North Oyster Bay Baymen’s Association, Osteria Leana, Mill Creek Tavern, Christina’s Epicure, Oyster Bay Brewery, Seasons 52, Spinnakers, Banfi Vintners, Coach Grill & Tavern, Birch Hill Market, Elegant Affairs, Greenpear Catering, Greek Cove, Mario’s Pizzeria, Harborside Deli, Messina Market and King Kullen.

Our sincere gratitude goes out to our local community partners for their generosity toward raffles, silent auction items, food, beverages and other contributions. And a world of thanks to all sailors, committee members, volunteers, guests, staff, students and families.

See some pictures from the event below! We hope to see you at next year’s event!

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Mill Neck Graduate Celebrates 50 Years as the Mets Mailman

Full disclosure: Tod Tillotson loves the Yankees. Now, that’s not to say that he doesn’t share a learned love for the Mets. But just like any born-and-bred New York boy in the 50s, Tillotson spent his adolescence wholeheartedly rooting for the Yankees before the Mets even existed.

Tillotson had quite a different childhood, however, after an incident left him Deaf at the age of 5: he fell out of his crib as an infant in his Kew Gardens home and hit his head on a radiator.

He attended Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, which back then was a boarding school for Deaf children, and frequented Mill Neck’s Apple Festival each year. “I slept in the Manor House and I loved it; it was so much fun,” Tillotson recalled of his time spent at the school.

Years later, in 1964 when he was 15, he landed a job with the Mets organization through a connection his father made with then owner Donald M. Grant. Tillotson worked summer jobs for a few years and helped with mail, filing and special services, before taking on a full-time position as the Mets mailman.

Mill Neck Interpreter Service, a part of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations that provides professional Sign Language interpreters throughout Long Island and the metropolitan area, translates for Tillotson when coworkers aren’t able to understand his speech. 

After 50 years working for the Mets, the employee of longest tenure, Tillotson has met his share of professional athletes and celebrities. One, in particular, was Justin Timberlake. “I was standing behind him and said ‘excuse me’ and we started talking to each other,” he remembered.

Tillotson makes about six trips to Citi Field, delivering mail and picking it up, walking about eight miles a day. And he has no plans of retiring any time soon.

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Bill Passed which Requires ASL Interpreters at All Emergency Press Conferences

At Mill Neck, we strive everyday to empower Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. After months of advocating for the Deaf community to the Nassau County Legislators, we at Mill Neck are proud to state that yesterday, April 25, 2018 marks a significant change, which ensures that those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing will receive equal access during an emergency situation in Nassau County.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed a bill stating that American Sign Language Interpreters shall be provided at all emergency press conferences held in Nassau County. This bill was announced and submitted by Legislator Josh Lafazan–who serves for the 18th District of the Nassau County Legislature–at Mill Neck’s Day Habilitation Program in Hicksville, N.Y.

“As a County, it is our responsibility to ensure that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals have access to the same kind of information that is provided to others in emergency situations,” said Legislator Lafazan.

We thank you Legislator Josh Lafazan and County Executive Laura Curran for helping us continue our dedication to create a world in which Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are included and embraced as equals.

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GoFundMe Campaign for Safe Playground

The DEC has started a GoFundMe Campaign to raise money for rubber mulch in the student playground, which is vital to the safety of our Deaf children. Most of our Deaf and Hard of Hearing students wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, which are very expensive and can fall off and break easily. The addition of rubber mulch would reduce this risk as well as other general safety issues. Read more about our GoFundMe Campaign here.

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CHH Hosts St. Patrick’s Brunch & Learn

The Center for Hearing Health (CHH) held their first St. Patrick’s Brunch and Learn at the historic Mill Neck Manor for their current and prospective patients. The event was led by Erik Sengstacken, the Regional Sales Manager from Widex – a family owned company based in Denmark that is a leading manufacturer of hearing aids. Erik discussed their most advanced Digital Hearing system known as the BEYOND hearing aid and how they offer the most advanced, natural sound on the market. He also presented a variety of accessories that can be utilized with the television, iPhone and landline phone. To learn about future events or schedule a free hearing screening, contact or 516-628-4300.

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LFD Bible Story Books for Children

Lutheran Friends of the Deaf has been awarded a grant for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) to help fund the development of a series of Children’s Bible Story Books. These books combine American Sign Language, illustrative artwork, the written word and video, to bring the Gospel into the lives of both Deaf and hearing children. Purchase your copy today with an accompanying DVD by visiting


MNI and LFD Travel to the Dominican Republic

Director of LFD Rev. Thomas Dunseth and Director of MNI Dr. Amy Wilson recently visited the Dominican Republic, meeting with administrators from the School for the Deaf in Santo Domingo, as well as members of the Asociación Nacional de Sordos de la Republica Dominicana, Deaf leaders of Santiago and leaders of the LCMS Church to discuss possible partnerships in the country.

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Luncheon Held for Future Docents

Longtime docents Don Krug and Luci Murphy, as well as the Mill Neck Foundation special events team, held a luncheon and private tour of the historic Mill Neck Manor for potential docents. During their luncheon, they imparted historical knowledge of the Tudor Revival mansion that was once owned by cosmetic heiress Lilian Sefton Dodge. For more information on becoming a Mill Neck Manor docent, contact Special Events Assistant Jillian Michaelson at 516-428-4241 or

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Trip to Hosanna School For The Deaf in Ethiopia

By Debbie Desroches

I have traveled to many places, all over the world, but the experience of visiting the Hosanna School For the Deaf is one that has both humbled me and changed the way I think about so many things that I have taken for granted in my life.

At first glance the school resembles a rustic type of summer camp. As we turn off the dusty dirt road, past the wandering goats and cattle, through the gates of the property, I think to myself, “What kind of school is this? How can children learn here? What knowledge can I possibly bring that would be of any value to this place, so very different from everything I know?”

As the van pulls up to the building where I would be lecturing, I watch the children as they amble out the doors after finishing their morning prayer service. I see their mismatched clothes and their dusty shoes. Their curious stares as they watch the strangers from America walk past them. If I’m to be honest, I am staring too. Just as curious. I notice a few quick waves and smiles. I smile back and walk into the building.

The room is full. Filled with people who are so very welcoming, eager to learn, and who genuinely care about the children, as well as each other. For as I was soon to learn, this is a culture of caring. A culture of giving and helping and community. A culture that has so very little, but is willing to share whatever they do have. A culture with many burdens and responsibilities that are always borne with a smile.

Although ASL is different from their Ethiopian Sign Language, they all approach me with a shy ASL, “Good Morning”. I respond back with a greeting from their language, and they smile. Respect is shown on both sides. It’s a good start. I meet Tadessa, the Principal of the school. He is a quiet man and very much respected. The children love him. He is like a father figure to them. Pastor Baharook and his family are there as well. He starts us with a morning prayer.

I am joined by a Teacher of the Deaf from the university, Esau. He will help me with interpreting. Later, as the comfort level increases, we will have other volunteers to practice their interpreting.

We discuss Ethics, professional behavior, work practices, and respect for deaf and their needs. We break up into small groups for some ice breakers.   I tell the deaf teachers to take the lead, and I see how both the deaf and hearing think that’s odd. Although these people are colleagues, there is a definite hierarchy. By the end of the week the deaf teachers are standing up to give their opinions, voicing their concerns, and talking about what they need from interpreters. I ask for a volunteer to be a deaf interpreter for me. It’s the first time they have seen how a deaf interpreter works. The deaf cheer. The focus shifts to a “Deaf Can” mentality. Hopefully I have planted some seeds in that area.

I am fortunate enough to be given a tour of the school. Some of the children follow. They want me to take their pictures so that they can see themselves on my phone. Of course I do.

As I walk around the area I feel a sense of family. The children and adults share a type of comfort and familiarity that is nice to see. I am able to visit the dorm areas. See how the children wash their own clothes outside, by fountains. The older children help the younger ones with hair and dressing. I walk past the prayer areas. The girls decided to build one near their dorm area. The boys then decided to build one. There is healthy competition in a lot of what they do. I am able to witness their Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Coffee is amazing.

There is a wood working area, clothes making area ( they make clothes for themselves), technology area, cosmetology area ( to learn as a trade), as well as regular class rooms. The children graduate with knowledge of English, Amharic, ASL, and Ethiopian sign language. They will also graduate with trade and life skill knowledge, as well as academics. It is hard for deaf people to find work here.

They cook over fires and in wood burning ovens. It makes me think of how Native Americans would cook. Peppers are a main part of the sauces they use. Injira, is the spongy flatbread they use as an eating utensil, to sop up food on a common plate. It’s made from Teff. There is another bread called Hambasha. It looks like huge pita, but tastes like crusty Italian bread. I was given some at the school. Delicious.

Despite the electricity and running water challenges, the not being able to eat fresh fruit or vegetables for fear of sickness, malaria nets, thieving monkeys, interesting restroom accommodations, crows visiting my room, unusual food choices (think sheep), and salamanders running across the floor, I feel so very lucky to have been able to make this trip.

I have learned so very much from the caring, giving, welcoming people of Ethiopia and the Hosanna School for the Deaf. About myself, different cultures, what is truly important, faith, sharing, perceptions, and most importantly, not to take anything for granted

I set out on this trip with a goal of teaching and sharing my knowledge, and ended up with the learning experience of my life.

I will forever keep the children and staff of the Hosanna school in my heart.



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