ROANOKE, Va. – With school out, many children in the area are now wondering where they’ll be getting their next meal. But organizations like Feeding Southwest Virginia and Hunger Free America are working to help thousands of families with that problem.
Joel Berg, the CEO of national nonprofit Hunger Free America, is on a nationwide trip. He’s calling it, “End Hunger USA.” On Wednesday, he made a stop in Roanoke at Feeding Southwest Virginia.
“I’m really highlighting that hunger was a problem before the pandemic, spiked during the pandemic, but people need to understand it’s still here. It’s still pervasive. No one should put up a mission accomplished sign or declare a victory. We need structural changes and particularly policy changes,” said Berg.
At the start of the pandemic, changes were made to congregate meal requirements, making it possible for organizations like Feeding Southwest Virginia to offer to-go meals.
“We don’t have to stay and watch the children consume the meal, and that is important in a lot of the communities because there is not the great afterschool or the programs the children can go to. It’s actually in these low-income communities that we can provide meals or food to children and their families, and then, we can go somewhere else and feed more children during the day,” said Feeding Southwest Virginia’s President and CEO Pamela Irvine.
Feeding Southwest Virginia is anticipating giving away 30,000 meals during its summer feeding program. In some areas, that’s double the amount compared to previous years.
“Currently, right now, we have 58 nonprofit feeding programs and schools that we are partnering with throughout Southwest Virginia,” said Irvine. “We’ve seen tremendous growth down in the far southwest Virginia area where last year we only had five and this year we have twenty-some. That’s because we have been very progressive and again, we can feed children, and then we can drop the meals and go somewhere else to feed more children,” she added.
To find a full list of Feeding Southwest Virginia’s summer feeding schedule, click here.