Free summer meals program kicks off in Sterling

Volunteers help serve a free barbecue-themed lunch at the Summer Meals Program event at Sterling Library on Monday. 

The first day of summer vacation kicked off with an initiative to promote Loudoun's free Summer Food Service Program at Sterling Public Library.

The event Monday included a barbecue-themed lunch with hamburgers, hot dogs, corn salad, carrots, watermelon and milk.

Stefanie Dove, coordinator of marketing and outreach for school nutrition with Loudoun County Public Schools, said this is the county's fourth year organizing the summer meals program. They are hoping to surpass 50,000 meals this year.

LCPS School Nutrition will host free meals at the following places and times:

Leesburg Elementary

June 17-Aug. 2 (Monday-Friday)

Breakfast 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Lunch 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

*Closed July 4-5

Rolling Ridge Elementary, Sugarland Elementary, Sully Elementary, Forest Grove Elementary

July 8-Aug. 2 (Monday-Friday)

Breakfast 8 a.m.-8:30 a.m.

Lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Sterling Library

June 10-Aug. 16 (Monday-Friday)

Lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m.

*Closed July 4-5

Dove said summer is the hungriest time of year for many kids. When schools close for the summer, school meals disappear as well.

Event organizers from No Kid Hungry Virginia helped bring together 15 community partners on Monday, including representatives from Loudoun Hunger Relief, who were handing out fresh vegetables from JK Community Farm. There were also fun activities for kids, such as a milk carton garden project to show how to grow herbs for cooking.

Dove said she hopes the event raises awareness about the Summer Food Service Program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program connects children with nutritional options during the summer months through meal sites. Meals are free to children and teens ages 18 and younger who come to the summer meals sites. No application or registration is required, and no local funds are used in the $70,000 program.

“We want all families to know about the available summer meal sites. The goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with summer meals. Our kids need to be fueled up year-round and learning doesn't stop in the summer,” said Dove.

Families can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 and type in a ZIP code to find nearby summer meals sites, along with operating days and times. No application or registration is required at sites. No Kid Hungry organizes the texting service and updates the information weekly. Locations are also available at fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.

Free summer meals program kicks off in Sterling

Stefanie Dove assists Olivia and William Kent with planting a milk carton garden at a summer kick-off event June 10. 

(22) comments

amerigirl

Oh, Romano it is so sad that you insist that feeding hungry children hurts your budget. The USDA implemented the program because there was so much need. There are many programs that have been created because of need. Right now, a little over 3 million children use the program, only one out of seven children who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year continues to receive meals during the summer months. What next, you want to get rid of the Meals on Wheels and end the Older Americans Act nutrition programs? People should not go hungry living in the US, there is no reason we can’t take care of our own. That is already a problem with the VA and soldiers not getting what they need. Like I said before, worry more about the $103 million that trump spends golfing. It only costs $484 million in fiscal year to feed an entire country of hungry kids, so in a 4 year term trump will come close to using as much in tax payer dollars as it would cost to feed all the hungry kids in our country for a year

November Blue Wave

I would bet that those who are irritated by feeding hungry children are the first ones to proclaim their "Christianity" and "pro-life" stance. Matthew 25.

amerigirl

I bet they are also the ones that don't want women to be pro-choice but wouldn't give a penny to help with feeding or medical expenses once the child is born because 'they didn't force her to get pregnant so it not their problem'. They seem to think that women get pregnant all by themselves.

Hateyuppies

I understand helping kids get adequate nutrition when tney don't have enough to eat at home.The church I attend participates in the Backpack Buddies program of donated groceries.What I would like to know is,what do the parents eat?If a home cannot provide adequate nutrition to children,where do the parents get their food?Okay amerigirl,give my post your best shot.

amerigirl

No best shot. I think what your church is doing is great! I would think that most if not all these families are on snap which never quite covers the needs. With outside assistance there is less chance that the parents will have to go hungry so their kids can eat. I have worked with someone who had to go without eating to feed their kids because of an auto breakdown and repairs. So I would think that SNAP would help the parents and kids have a healthier lifestyle with a little help from the outside. What do you think?

DavisB

That is an issue as well. Amerigirl was responding to the narcistic comments by Romano who thinks feeding kids is a economically bad choice

amerigirl

Romano, your priorities are skewed. You worry about what it cost to feed hungry children, like it is going to effect your bottom dollar in a big way. Why don't you worry about the $103,000,000.00 of tax payers dollars that trump has paid just for golfing instead? How about all the money we paid to feed and house his family while they were in England, taxpayers always pick up the bill for Secret Service protection of the first family and on official business, the U.S. government pays all costs including food, lodging, car rentals and other incidentals, for Ivanka and Jerrod.

amerigirl

Excellent idea! Looks like I just might be putting in some volunteering hours.

Loudoun4Trump

I'm surprised crazy Bernie isn't there screaming....free meals for all...

amerigirl

Kids need nutrition. Last month trump said he wants to cut snap and 70% of the snap recipients are families (770,000) with children. Then you will have to add the families that would lose their income since it would result in 221,815 jobs lost in 2020 alone, and more than 2.8 million job-years lost over the next decade according to the Center for American Progress analysis.

romano

Free for whom? Someone is paying....

DavisB

Really, you are coming out against feeding hungry kids?

LoudounSucks

Of course he is. MAGAots are all bootstrappy and whatnot.

RoundHillGuy

"the problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money"

romano

Not those who have legitimate needs. Many are gaming the system. Just don't call it free. No such thing

DavisB

Romana - do you have any evidence of anyone gaming the system? Your suggestion that we are wasting money on feeding children, regardless of need, is disturbing. It seems that you are jealous of those who have less than you.

amerigirl

The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has funds set aside as part of their budget.

amerigirl

Romano, do you really think that parents are going to take the time out of their schedules to feed their children so they can game the system. They only feed the kids.

romano

where do their funds come from? What product or service generates revenue for them?

DavisB

not sure what your point is, Romano? Why must there be a revenue generating service? What do you have against feeding children?

romano

Davis, sorry you are not able to keep up. Amerigirl said that USDA funding is earmarked for these lunches as though that made them free. My point is that the USDA rleies on taxes, no product or service revenue, to get their funds. So some of us, those paying taxes, are paying for it. It's not free. Whether people are gaming the system or not (of course they are) is a separate issue. Try to keep up

DavisB

Romano - somehow you are still trying to make this a story about finances and not about hungry children. There does not have to be an economical discussion. We can feed children without curmudgeons like you trying to reduce the good will being done here.

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