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Lynchburg free lunch program goes underused, organizers looking to serve more meals to hungry

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LYNCHBURG (WSLS10) - For struggling families, feeding children during the summer can be difficult without schools providing regular meals.

That's why Lynchburg City schools are offering free meals for all children and low cost meals for adults.

While the need for a free summer meal program is present in Lynchburg, it's a resource that isn't taken advantage of as much as organizers had hoped. School nutritionists say there are enough meals to feed 150 people a day, but only a third of which is showing up.

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Five days a week  Madalena Phelps prepares a hardy breakfast and lunch for those she knows may not get one otherwise.

"Children go hungry every night, especially in Lynchburg," Phelps said.

During the school year she sees the need every day. 65 percent of all students in Lynchburg city schools are on the free and reduced lunch program.When class is out she worries they'll go hungry. To fill the gap the school offers meals twice a day at no charge for students -no questions asked.

"I believe there is a great need for it, but many people aren't aware that it's available to them," Phelps said.

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It's a big help for those who come like regular Elvin Morno

"There are a lot of kids out there who many not have food to eat,  maybe even some adults," Morno said.

A nutritious meal they may not have otherwise. Regular James Coleman is with a church group in the area. He and members of his church who work in the community take advantage of cheap meals. Coleman says he hopes to see more in the community make the best of the opportunity.

"And you can get as much as you want for your children. I think it's a great opportunity especially if you are coming with an empty stomach."

Although more than half of students here at Perrymont Elementary need food assistance during the school year -- they aren't showing up for summer time free meals.

"I think it's kind of sad. It's disappointing that they don't know that it's available to them and  that they are struggling out there when they could be taking advantage of it," Phelps said.

Each day Madalena only serves between 25 to fifty people, most are regulars. She knows more are out there.

To take part in the program no paperwork or proof of income is necessary. Free meals are offered to kids 18 and under this summer at two open feeding sites:

  • R. S. Payne Elementary School located at 1201 Floyd Street
  • Perrymont Elementary School located at 409 Perrymont Avenue

A free breakfast and lunch is offered every Monday through Friday through August 7.

Breakfast is served 8:30 to 9:30 and lunch is served 12:30 to 1:30. Adults are welcome to eat for a small fee: Adult Breakfast is $1.25; Adult Lunch is $2.50.

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