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LETTER: Summer can be the hungriest season for kids

LETTER: Summer can be the hungriest season for kids

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Summer can be the hungriest season for kids

As summer in Virginia hits full throttle, there’s a lot to celebrate. We’re inching closer to some of the freedoms we enjoyed pre-pandemic, and the end of many of the restrictions that weighed so heavily on our personal lives.

But something still needs our focus: feeding hungry children in the Fredericksburg area.

It’s so easy to overlook the fact that for one in eight kids in the commonwealth who may face hunger, summer isn’t just a season of fun and sun. It’s also often the hungriest time of year.

Last summer proved that it doesn’t have to be.

At FOODE + Mercantile, we take the job of feeding our community very seriously, paying particular attention to the underserved because they need our help the most. We recently visited Capitol Hill virtually alongside other No Kid Hungry advocates to talk with legislators about the importance of solving hunger by updating our laws.

The sobering fact is, kids in our community aren’t hungry because we lack food. But that’s actually good news because many common issues kids face in accessing summer meals can be solved through legislation.

During the pandemic, measures were put in place that not only helped alleviate the hunger crisis last summer, but also addressed barriers families faced long before COVID-19 hit. Because of meal program flexibilities, like additional summer grocery benefits and allowing meals to come to kids to help overcome transportation barriers, Virginia served nearly 3 million more meals to kids in need.

Unfortunately, these measures are only temporary. It’s time for Congress to update and modernize the summer meals programs so that they reflect today’s needs and permanently implement policies that will allow organizations to ultimately reach more children. Because when the policies relax, childhood hunger in our great state escalates. That cannot happen.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have an unique opportunity to support proven solutions like a nationwide Summer EBT program and non-congregate meal options through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization or the American Families Plan to make changes that will last. Hungry kids in Fredericksburg, in Virginia and across the country can’t wait.

Joy Crump and Stacy Cogswell

FOODE

Fredericksburg

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