Roanoke County schools to continue free meal distributions for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke County Public Schools (RCPS) will once again be offering free meals to students and families for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

For volunteers and staff at Herman L. Horn Elementary School, the meal distribution process couldn’t be more simple: drive up, state your name, and give a number of the meals needed.

The process has been the same since March 16, 2020, when the school system decided to close all of its buildings due to the alarming spread of COVID-19.

While food selection varies week to week, school officials said the need still remains.

As of June 30, 2021, the RCPS has distributed 1,258,258 free meals to students.

“That’s a lot of meals to provide,” said Chuck Lionberger, Director of Community Relations at RCPS. “That’s breakfast and lunch, and we’re very proud that we are going to continue that for the school year.”

Thanks to an extension of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s feeding program, school districts like RCPS will continue to feed students for the upcoming school year.

Lionberger says for some students, it may be their only opportunity at getting a healthy and nutritious meal.

“We’ve provided that many meals to kids who needed them, and it could be their only source of good nutrition,” said Lionberger.

Connie Shawver, Nutrition Field Manager, says families are extremely grateful for the resource.

“It’s wonderful to see the parents drive up, and we just love it when they have the children with them,” said Shawver. “They get to wave at us and say hello because we don’t get to see them everyday.”

However, with the school year almost here, it won’t be too long until staff and students are reunited once again.

“We’re really looking forward to kids just being able to be in a cafeteria and enjoy lunch like normal. Let’s get back to a normal year. We can’t wait,” said Lionberger.

Roanoke County Public School’s summer program will last until the end of July. Meal distributions will then start back up on Aug. 12.

Anyone 18 years old and younger is eligible for a free meal, regardless of where they live.

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