Chester and Meadowdale libraries are taking part in a groundbreaking pilot program within the county to feed hungry children over the summer.
The First Lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe, the Virginia Department of Health and No Kid Hungry are working together to get Virginia’s kids fed. Virginia libraries across the state have joined this project.
Mrs. McAuliffe said that many barriers like extreme weather, transportation challenges and excessive red tape block many kids from getting the meals they need.
Summer brings not only sunshine but special challenges for kids struggling with hunger. For kids in low-income families, hunger can be a reality, especially during the summer when free lunch programs from school are not available.
“In Virginia, only 13 percent of children who receive a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year receive a meal each day through the State Department of Agriculture’s Summer Feeding Program,” said Mrs. McAuliffe.
The No Kid Hungry campaign seeks to fill the dark void of hunger.
“The program is a natural fit for us,” said Carolyn Sears of Chesterfield County Public Libraries Administration, “we are focused on kids.”
The program was embraced by The Library of Virginia, and several libraries throughout the state are taking part. Children 18 and younger are provided a free lunch. The food is purchased, prepared and delivered by a non-profit organization to a “site” where the food is served. The library staff serves the meal.
Sears said that the libraries are classified as “the site.” The non-profit that is donating the food, preparing and delivering it for Chester and Meadowdale libraries is the Victory Church of God in Christ.
In the first week of the feeding program, Chester library had 20 children take part in the free lunch, Sears said. “The second week we were up to 30 and the numbers continues to grow.
“There are so many children in need,” Sears compassionately said, “We wanted to help provide a wholesome meal through the summer.”
The meals are prepared with USDA standards and guidelines. A meal, Sears said, contains milk, a protein, a vegetable and a fruit. A sample meal of what is served she said was milk, a ham and cheese sandwich, a piece of celery and a orange.
According to Share Our Strength, a national non-profit seeking to end childhood hunger, “one in five kids will face hunger this year.”
All kids need to do to take part in the free lunch program is show up. The program begins at 11:30 a.m and ends at 12:30 p.m. Chester Library serves the lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday. Meadowdale Library serves on Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday and Friday. The program is for ages 18 and younger.
Mrs. McAuliffe passionately seeks for the relief of kids in their needs and says, “We can and must do more to increase participation in these programs and connect more kids with the healthy food they need every day.”