Food Assistance Resources

free school mealsChildhood hunger is linked to academic struggles, difficulties focusing and concentrating, mental health disorders, and increased behavioral referrals. School meals help close the nutrition gap that exists for low-income families and plays a critical role in youth dietary behaviors.
 
In Virginia 1.3 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program and 45.59% of our students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches. Research from the Northwestern Institute for Policy Research indicates that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic Virginia's food insecurity rose 12.5% to 22.5% (or more than one in five people) during the April-May 2020 timeframe. 

The negative impacts of COVID-19 – on school schedules, school budgets, employment, the economy, and food insecurity – will be long-lasting, and will not end when the calendar year ends. As child hunger grows, it's important to maintain easy access to nutricious meals and food assistance programs.

PTA IMPACT

PTA has a long history of advocating for access to healthy meals for children. Our advocacy resulted in the introduction of hot school lunches and in 2021 Virginia PTA remains committed to advocating for expanded access to healthy meals for students. PTA advocacy resulted in FREE school meals through-out the 2020 and 2021 school year. State legislation that Virginia PTA advocated for in 2021 also expanded access to free after-school meals, reduced school lunch debt and supported programs that increase locally grown foods in school cafeterias. 
 

GET FOOD ASSISTANCE

As a result of PTA advocacy, the USDA has extended FREE meals for schools and childcare day care facilities through -- June 30, 2022 -- to support safe re-opening and to ensure all children continue to have access to healthy free meals. Children ages 18 and under may receive free nutritious meals at participating locations.

The School Lunch Program does not require an individual to be a citizen or qualified alien. Immigration and refugee status is not collected as part of the application for free/reduced meals and it is illegal for the school nutrition office to share information from the school meal application without written consent from the parent/guardian.
 
To find meal locations families may:
 
🍲 Check with their local school division
🍲 Use the online School Meal Finder website 
🍲 Text “food” or “comida” to 877-877 to receive a list of nearby feeding centers.
🍲Text “Summer Meals” to 97779 or call 1-866-348-6479 to find a school meal site near you
🍽 Access food assistance programs provided through the Virginia Department of Social Services