Unique summer feeding program offers free lunch for all kids

Open to anyone 18 or younger, regardless of where they live or attend school

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A unique summer feeding program at Roanoke County schools is working to make sure every child gets the food they need this summer.

They launched the program about two weeks ago with the help of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

"Parents don't have to worry about it, they're taken care of and you know, it's just been a phenomenal success," Roanoke County Public Schools nutrition supervisor Rhonda Huffman said.

It's free for anyone 18 or younger, regardless of where they live or go to school.

"So mom doesn't have to cook and because you don't have to pay to have lunch," Summer Feeding Program participant Mahagony Perry said.

It's a big hit for 10-year-old Mahagony Perry and her two sisters. They've eaten lunch at Burlington Elementary almost every day over the past two weeks.

"I mostly like lunch because it is healthy to me and I just like coming here because people give us food for free but they didn't really have to do that," Perry said.

The goal is to feed kids in need. At least half of students at the two sites in Roanoke County are on free or reduced lunch.

"In these two particular areas, there probably is a food insecurity for some people," Huffman said.

It also gives kids a healthy meal that they may not have otherwise.

"I know that sometimes parents and even grandparents so to speak, we fix the quickest thing that we have around and at least this is a well-balanced, it meets all the nutrients that children are supposed to have," Huffman said.

They hit a big milestone Wednesday: 1,000 meals served this summer. They're already planning for next year, too.

"If we can help a single child or multiple children, that right there means a lot and that's the whole purpose of the program," Huffman said.

The Summer Feeding Program runs Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon until July 13. It’s happening at Burlington Elementary School and Herman L. Horn Elementary School.