Feeding programs in Southwest Virginia districts to continue into summer

Mike Still • Updated May 28, 2020 at 10:27 PM

The 2019-20 academic year is over for Southwest Virginia school divisions, but those systems are continuing free meal pickups and deliveries for students through much of the summer.

Lee County Superintendent Brian Austin said that his division’s feeding program, which has been in action since March 16, will continue at least through July, thanks to continued help from the state Department of Education.

Austin said that more than 14,000 meals have been supplied to students via pickup sites at Rose Hill Elementary and Jonesville and Pennington Gap middle schools Monday through Thursday, with a double meal package to cover Fridays. He credited schools’ cafeteria staffs along with volunteers from the division’s employees with keeping students supplied with meals during the pandemic.

In Scott County, Food Services Supervisor Jennifer Frazier said the division’s feeding program will restart on June 1 and run through June 30 before a partnership with Appalachian Community Action picks up food pickups through July.

Since March 18, Frazier said, about 80,000 meals have been provided to students.

The Norton school system also continues its meal delivery and pickup program starting June 1 with combined lunch-breakfast meal units for children under 18 Monday through Thursday. On Thursdays, children will receive four meals — two breakfasts and two lunches — to cover that day and Friday. Food service will be closed during the week of July 4.

Wise County Schools Food Service Director Brandi Bates said the division has served 180,000 meals since March 18 and that the program will continue through June and into July.

Bates said the pandemic, along with Gov. Ralph Northam’s emergency order closing the state’s public schools, basically meant that the school system’s normal USDA-funded summer nutrition program started three months early.

“We have the staff and are able to procure the resources, so we can do this,” Bates said. “We supply food for all the children in a student’s family, and we’ve been able to provide food for some homeschooled students.

“I was talking with one of our employees and we talked about how, back in October, we didn’t think we’d be doing this in March,” Bates said, “and how back in March we didn’t think it would go on more than two weeks.”

For more information on each school system’s food program and schedules, visit:

— Wise County Schools: www.wisek12.org

— Lee County Schools: https://sites.google.com/leecoschools.com/lcps

— Norton City Schools: www.nortoncityschools.org

— Scott County Schools: www.scottschools.com

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