$8.8 million grant awarded to end childhood hunger in Southwest Virginia

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BUCHANAN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - First Lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe, was in Bristol Tuesday to announce that eight southwest Virginia school divisions will participate in an innovative project designed to help end childhood hunger in the Commonwealth.

The 3-6-5 Project to End Childhood Hunger is funded by an $8.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will support parallel childhood hunger initiatives in Richmond City.

Schools in Buchanan Co., Bristol City, Galax City, Grayson Co., Lee Co., Scott Co., Smyth Co., and Tazewell Co., will take part in the project by implementing a suite of programs to ensure every child has access to three nutritious meals a day, 365 days a year.

The Virginia grant was among $27 million in awards announced by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a speech at the 2015 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.

Made possible by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), the projects target areas or populations with elevated levels of food insecurity or gaps in nutrition assistance program coverage. Feeding America's 2013 Map the Meal Gap report finds that the 5 Virginia counties/cities with the highest rates of child food insecurity are all located in the southwest region.

Under the Virginia proposal, the Department of Education will implement the Virginia Hunger-Free Kids Act Demonstration Project, which will test the impact of providing (1) three school meals a day to all children in select schools during the school year, (2) food for weekends and school breaks, and (3) more resources for low-income households to purchase food during the summer months when school is not in session.

More details here.