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:
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.
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.