How NVFS impacts lives of children experiencing food insecurity during the summer months through our Hunger Resource Center
For most children, the end of the school year is celebrated with summer vacation planning, excitement and backyard barbecues. For the 7.4 percent of families living below the poverty line and experiencing food insecurity in Greater Prince William, the end of the school year means these students often no longer have access to school-provided breakfast and lunch.
Because of the decrease in meals at school, caregivers must provide three meals per day, which is a significant hardship for families in Greater Prince William struggling to provide food for their children.
Northern Virginia Family Service’s (NVFS) Hunger Resource Center (HRC) operates year-round to serve more than 600 families per month and 9,000 unique individuals per year, providing them with accessible food options that are both nutritional and affordable.
“Hunger does not take the summer off,” says SERVE Campus Community and Volunteer Engagement Specialist Navara Cannon. “In fact, the need increases in the summer. Children of the families we serve are able to get breakfast and lunch from their school while it’s in session but, during the summer, that outlet is no longer an option.”
Because the summer months are some of the most crucial for the HRC, NVFS relies on monetary and food donations from community partners and grantees, as well as volunteer service, to ensure all of our clients’ needs are met during a time where they need it most.
“We can always use donations,” says HRC Warehouse Manager Darrell Dixon. “We’re open six days a week, and even then, we’ll make it a point to receive your donation. We could always use more to feed our community.”
Cannon adds, “[The community] can also organize a food drive with their school, church community group or neighborhood. Monetary donations are a high commodity, as the HRC can purchase food from the Capital Area Food Bank for a flat fee of 19 cents per pound. $100 can buy more than 500 pounds of food.”
Apart from providing affordable food to our clients, NVFS’ HRC also enrolls families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) nutritional education programs to ensure families are educated on and able to afford healthy food all year long.
This includes ensuring families understand how to read a nutrition label and teaching them how to prepare healthy meals with monthly cooking demonstrations.
“We like to come up with different games that put the kids in various food-related scenarios,” Dixon states. “[The kids] learn how to read nutrition facts on canned items, how to shop for healthy foods and are taught about early-onset diabetes, a disease that affects more than 193,000 youth in our country alone.”
For more ways NVFS supports families during the summer months, and how you can become involved, please see the following opportunities:
NVFS’ Camp Discovery offers a way for our SERVE Family Shelter guests to give the gift of a summer camp experience to their children! How you can get involved:
- Become a Camp Discovery Camp Counselor at SERVE
- Donate supplies such as LEGOs, paint, sidewalk chalk, art supplies and planting soil. Contact Jamie Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
NVFS’ Back-to-School Drive provides children in need with backpacks, notebooks and more to prepare them for success in the upcoming school year. How you can get involved:
- Donate school supplies or monetary gifts to purchase supplies
- Volunteer to sort donations of school supplies. Contact Annie Arroyo at email@example.com for more information.
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