For more than two decades, Share Our Strength has served as a vital nonprofit working with issues of hunger and poverty around the world. In 2010, they introduced No Kid Hungry, a national campaign that provides children around the country with access to free, healthy meals. No Kid Hungry’s programs have grown to include free meals for breakfast and afterschool, summer meals, food skill education, research and policy work, and advocacy. Here in Virginia, No Kid Hungry feeds thousands of school aged children throughout the year, children who count on these free meals as part of their survival. However, with summer break coming on the heels of early school closings due to COVID-19, many children are suffering.
Research shows that the summer months are already one of the hungriest times of year for many children.
The need will be even greater this summer with more than 10% of Virginians facing unemployment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent estimates show that as many as one in four children could experience food insecurity in the aftermath of this crisis.
But thanks to the efforts of organizations like No Kid Hungry Virginia, free meals for children will continue to be available across Virginia during the summer.
No Kid Hungry Virginia encourages families to text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to find free meals and summer food sites organized by school districts and community organizations.
Meal sites are offering a variety of distribution models to help safely connect students with meals and promote social distancing, including “Grab and Go” service and food delivery along bus routes while passing out multiple days’ worth of meals at one-time.
“A big challenge is making sure families know how to find resources,” said Sarah Steely, No Kid Hungry Virginia Associate Director. “Please share the texting number with family and friends and on social networks, and check with your local school division for the most detailed information. We need to make everyone is aware of free meal resources in their communities.”
The Summer Meals program is funded by the USDA and operated by school districts and local organizations. Schools have been utilizing the Summer Meals program to operate emergency meal sites throughout the pandemic.
Families can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 and type in a zip code to find nearby summer meal sites, along with operating days and times. No application or registration is required at sites.
Summer hunger can have a long-term impact on a child’s health, ability to learn, and general well-being. No Kid Hungry Virginia is focused on providing funding and strategic assistance to schools and local organizations implementing summer meal programs to help them reach more kids during the pandemic.
If you would like to be part of the vital work being done in your own community, visit va.nokidhungry.org for more information about No Kid Hungry Virginia’s work.
About No Kid Hungry
No child should go hungry in America. But millions don’t know where their next meal is coming from. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign by Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.