HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – There are more than 300,000 food insecure children in Virginia, according to Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. She and Governor Terry McAuliffe were in Hampton on Wednesday to kick-off this summer’s “No Kid Hungry“ program.
The whole purpose of the program is to provide free, healthy meals to kids during the summer because many of those kids get one or two meals per day at school during the year. In fact, Hampton’s Mayor Donnie Tuck says 60 percent of students in Hampton City Schools are on free or reduced lunches. So the problem they’re looking to solve is: What do these kids eat when they’re not in school?
The West Hampton Community center is one of 29 food centers in Hampton and one of 1,400 food centers in the Commonwealth that are free meal centers this summer.
“These locations are places like your local school, a church, a YMCA, a library, a park,” said No Kid Hungry Virginia Program Manager Sarah Steely. “Places that are safe and familiar and trusted. No questions asked, no ID required.”
“No Kid Hungry” is a federal program that provides free, healthy meals to anyone under 18 during the summer months.
“We know that these kids are hungry and so to have a program like this is really important,” Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck said.
It’s what brought Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy to Hampton Wednesday morning.
“You just can’t have children being hungry, and as we say, children can’t be hungry for knowledge if they’re just plain hungry,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “In the summer months, that’s as important. We want children to experience the joy of childhood, of summer months, but keep their brains and their bodies engaged.”
Governor McAuliffe says schools served 11 million breakfast meals this year and that shows just how many kids are food insecure. Plus, he says food is crucial to the development of the Commonwealth.
“You cannot have a workforce unless children early on, at this age, second or third graders that I talked to out there, to get them a passion for learning, but that passion will not exist if they’re thinking about their stomachs,” the governor said.
More than food and jobs, the program shows kids the community cares.
“I think the most important thing is to realize is there is a support network that they have, that we have a city that loves them and embraces them,” said Mayor Tuck.
To find a site, you can text “food” or “comida” to 877-877 and it will tell you the center nearest you.