Over 500,000 of our school aged children in Virginia qualify to receive a free or reduced priced lunch during the school year. Many of these children count on the meal that they receive during school, but what are they to do when summer hits and they are no longer in the classroom?
Childhood hunger during the summer months is one of the issues that the Virginia Synod Childhood Hunger Task Force, also known as Virginia Feeds Kids, has been concentrating on this year.
In 2015, Virginia Feeds Kids hosted three interfaith and iteragency gatherings to strategize with partners across the state. Now, in 2016, they are launching local efforts.
“We are encouraging regional interfaith and interorganizational coordination throughout the summer,” said Eric Carlson, the chair of the Virginia Synod Childhood Hunger Task Force.
While the Free/Reduced Lunch Program is familiar to many in Virginia, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is less well known. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a program of the USDA, ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Each region has organizations who act as sponsors for sites where children are actually fed.
Virginia Feeds Kids is hosting six regional informational sessions about feeding children during the Summer.
The meetings are, “to raise awareness for congregational leaders about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and how congregations can help regional sponsors and how sponsors can help congregations in finding and feeding hungry children.”
“Organizations and people from all congregations are invited,” said Eric Carlson. The sponsor for the region where the sessions are being held will also be in attendance.
Meetings will be held in Waynesboro, Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, and Abingdon during March and April. The first session was already held in Fredericksburg in February and the participants are planning on continuing coordinating together.
“In Fredericksburg we are going to gather a list of all the Summer VBS programs in the region and we will publish that list of who offers a meal or a snacks,” said Carlson.
After each session, the registration button on the Virginia Feeds Kids website will turn into a button where you can sign up to receive information about coordination efforts in that region.
Go online to www.virginiafeedskids.org to register for a session or to learn more about the efforts of Virginia Feeds Kids.