Lawmakers OK Bill to Get Excess Food to Hungry Virginia Students

USDA proposes changes to school lunch program requirements
USDA proposes changes to school lunch program requirements

VA – According to WRC, The General Assembly passed a bill that will allow Virginia schools to distribute excess food to eligible students, in an effort to provide another meal to students.

“Hunger is real in Virginia,” said Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William. “And it is pervasive.”

The bill Roem introduced will allow school districts to create a program to distribute excess food to students eligible for the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Roem said that many districts are already under pressure to make sure all the prepared food is served to students, but there are leftovers. Some days there will be more and other days there will be less, but inevitably there will be an excess, she said.

The USDA also offers a federally-funded Afterschool Meals program. The program is optional, but Roem said several districts are starting to take advantage of it, including some in Prince William County. Students enrolled in the program are given a meal to take home with them.

“We already know there’s existing precedent for distributing excess school meals at the end of the day,” Roem said. “We already know this works.”

Roem wanted the language in her bill to make it explicitly clear that every school district in the state can participate. She said that the use of “may distribute” versus “shall distribute” in the legislation is to allow school districts to figure out their own method.

School breakfasts and lunches might be the only nutritious meals a child receives that day, Roem said. For some students, school lunch on a Friday might be the last meal they eat until Monday morning.

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