First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe and No Kid Hungry Celebrate Feed and Read in Roanoke VA
~1 in 6 Kids in Virginia Experience Summer Hunger~
ROANOKE -- First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and representatives from No Kid Hungry joined children at the Roanoke Main Library today to celebrate the local Feed and Read program and the Library of Virginia’s statewide support for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
“In Virginia, only 13 percent of children who receive a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year receive summer meals,” said Mrs. McAuliffe. “We can do better to ensure that kids have healthy meals every day of the year, and libraries are an important part of the solution.”
National summer meals programs, like the United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, were created forty years ago to help students get nourishment when school is out of session. Under the current program, federally reimbursed meals are available to kids at sites around the country, including schools, faith-based programs and community centers. This program is a lifeline for kids in need.
Unfortunately, barriers like extreme weather, transportation challenges and excessive red tape block many kids from getting the meals they need.
Together, No Kid Hungry, the Library of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health, and the First Lady are working to overcome these barriers, and encouraging effective, efficient policies that make sure all kids are getting the healthy food they need. The partnership has been successful in recruiting 26 libraries across the commonwealth to participate in the program as summer meal or snack sites. They are safe, fun locations where kids can be nourished and engage in learning at the same time.
Through a public-private partnership, the First Lady’s office partners with the national No Kid Hungry campaign to raise awareness about summer meals program in the area, as well as promote alternative breakfast and afterschool meal programs.
“We know the impact summer hunger can have on children and families. When school meals disappear, kids experience anxiety and uncertainty and family budgets are stretched even further,” said Duke Storen, senior director of research, advocacy and partner development at Share Our Strength. “The summer meals program provides a critical resource to these children, but far too many kids are missing out on the chance to have a healthy meal every day.”
The Roanoke Main Library completed beautiful renovations in October 2014, and this is its first year participating in the SFSP. During the Feed and Read program, kids participate in reading and educational programming in addition to receiving a nutritious meal, Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 12:30pm. This program supports the Roanoke City's “Star City Reads Initiative,” providing a safe, fun environment for children and helping to prevent summer learning loss.
The meal service is sponsored by the YMCA of Roanoke Valley. Since 1883, The YMCA has been dedicated to nurturing the potential of every child and teen in the Roanoke Valley. “With school out during the summer, many kids don’t have access to healthy food, physical activity or learning activities—a critical gap the Y is addressing,” said Jackie Grant, YMCA of Roanoke Valley senior vice president of operations. “The Y-USA Year-Round Feeding Program and the Summer Food Service Program helps us serve 40,000 healthy meals and snacks paired with enriching activities during the summer months for kids who typically participate in the National School Lunch Program.”
Background Information on Summer Meals Program in Virginia:
- Meals are FREE to children and teens age 18 and younger who come to a summer meals site
- Food served follows USDA nutrition guidelines and is paid for by the USDA
- Summer meals sites are at schools, churches, community centers and other places that are safe for kids and teens
- Parents don’t need to apply to the program to get a free summer meal for their kids. They can just bring their child to a summer meals site in their community.
- Families can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 or call 866-3HUNGRY or 2-1-1 to find a summer meals site in their neighborhood.
About Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign
No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.