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Food Banks Preparing for Summer Food Service Program - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Food Banks Preparing for Summer Food Service Program

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The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is calling on organizations to step up and put a dent in hunger this summer. The Summer Food Service Program "provides federal funding to eligible sponsor organizations to provide meals and snacks to lower income children during the summer months when school is not in session," according to the VDH's official website.

Feeding kids in need is a year-round challenge, but it can be especially difficult in the summer. The Summer Food Service Program is one the largest initiatives the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank takes on, and it's especially critical in Charlottesville.

Although summer is months away, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank says it's never too soon to start preparing.

"It's very important because during the summer months many children who are accessing free and reduced priced meals don't have that over the summer," said Ruth Jones of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

VDH is accepting applications for organizations to serve meals. The food bank provides the food through the Department of Agriculture working with community sites to provide breakfast and lunch as well as some snacks.

"Last year we were able to provide 50,000 meals and snacks to children in both the Charlottesville and the Shenandoah Valley area through about 24 feeding sites," said Jones.

While the program has made a substantial impact, addressing Charlottesville's unique pockets of poverty remains a challenge. Out of those 24 feeding sites,  three were in Charlottesville.

"We're serving about 26,000 people a month here in the Charlottesville area through our food pantries, and about 4 in 10 that we serve are children, and so the need is definitely great. It's grown in the past five years, in fact, its doubled," said Jones.  

The food bank isn't sure why more organizations haven't gotten on board,  but the agency is open to others who want to participate.  

"Our goal is, of course, is to just make sure children are being properly nourished, we don't want anyone to be at risk over the summer," said Jones.   

In Charlottesville, these are open sites - which means children from other areas can also be served here.   

For more information about the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the initiative, click here.

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