Summer lunch program gears up to expand this year in Lynchburg area

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LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - Some students look to the end of the school year and the beginning of Summer with excitement, but for others who rely on free or reduced-price lunches, leaving school means finding another service so they don't go hungry.

For more than 4 hundred 70 kids in the Greater Lynchburg Area, that source is the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

As it has every year, the Summer lunch program expects to expand to serve more children than ever in the Lynchburg area.

The food bank says it just brought in around 40,000 pounds of canned food through a drive sponsored by the Postal Service.

This year, those goods will be distributed to 13 different sites in schools, churches, and community centers around the city.

Staff at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank are busy organizing supplies for the Summer lunch program that begins in June.

"I know I've been here about 6 years and that's increased each year for, to help with the kids during the summer," said Lynchburg Branch Manager Jim Scrivener.

Scrivener says while unemployment is on the decline, the majority of the food bank's clients suffer from underemployment, leaving people struggling to pay bills.

"If we can provide food, it's one less thing that they don't have to worry about, and they can focus what they have on some of the other things, like utilities and housing and transportation," said Scrivener.

During the Summer, that food is provided to children for free, who might normally receive free or reduced lunches at school.

It's distributed through community centers, like Diamond Hill.

"It's grown a lot. We might have started out with about 10, 15 but now like i said you can get numbers up to 35 plus. So it's a good program, excellent program," said Manager Mickey Ferguson.

Ferguson says her center also offers a low-cost camp to families, charging only $150 dollars for 7 weeks of care and meals starting June 20th, but at lunch-time, anyone is welcome.

"It doesn't matter if the child is enrolled with the summer camp, if they are going to come during our lunch time, they too are able to eat," said Ferguson.

Ferguson says it's a service the surrounding neighborhood has come to depend on.

"It is extremely important because a lot of the kids during the school year, they have the lunch that they get in the schools. In the summer time, you can't guarantee where their hot meal is going to come from, or where that meal in general is going to come from," said Ferguson.

Scrivener says the food bank strives to make the meals as healthy as possible.

"Try to stay with the low sodium-type vegetables, canned fruits, like peaches and fruit cocktail," said Scrivener.

The program has grown since Diamond Hill joined 8 years ago, from 9 to 13 centers, but Scrivener says they have a long way to go.

"What we're doing doesn't really cover everybody, because right now it's like 10 thousand 5 hundred children in need in the Lynchburg area, so we're just addressing a part of it and just trying to do more each year," said Scrivener.

Different locations around the city offer different types of meals, some providing breakfast, others lunch and dinner.

Below is a full list of the distribution sites: