(WFXR) — Across southwest and central Virginia, summer meal programs fill in food deserts and help food-insecure families put meals in their kids’ stomachs.

Previous U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) COVID-19 waivers meant families could take meals home, having to travel only once a week to pick up food. This year, however, the USDA has returned to pre-COVID requirements, meaning students have to eat on-site.

“Now it’s becoming more restrictive,” said Amherst County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent William Wells. “I guess our one concern this year is with the price of gas, are people willing to drive five, 10 miles to a school?”

The food is ready and waiting, though. Amherst County Public Schools is providing food at four schools into July, while Amelon Elementary will have meals for kids all summer long.

Down in Southside, Henry County Public Schools has found one solution to rising gas costs — the Kids’ Café bus, making it possible to eat meals “on-site” anywhere.

“We tend to have greater participation if we go out to a densely populated neighborhood,” said Monica Hatchett, the district’s director of communications.

Henry County Public Schools’ other food sites can be found on the district’s website.

“This is a great way to ensure a student is having a healthy, nutritious meal,” Hatchett added.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other school districts offering families an extra hand when it comes to feeding kids:

  • Appomattox County Public Schools plans to have curbside food pickups for ages 1 to 18 at Appomattox Elementary School from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15, and Wednesday, June 22.
  • Bath County Public Schools
  • Campbell County Public Schools will offer meals at more than a dozen sites in June and July, but there is no curbside service available, which means the meals need to be eaten on-site.
  • Franklin County Public Schools will provide breakfast and lunch to children at 12 different locations during the summer months.
  • Giles County Public Schools will provide meals to students, free of charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Macy McClaugherty Elementary School during the following times:
    • Monday, June 13 through Thursday, June 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Monday, June 20 through Thursday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Monday, June 27 through Thursday, June 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Tuesday, July 5 through Friday, July 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Monday, July 11 through Thursday, July 14 from noon to 1 p.m.
    • Monday, July 25 through Thursday, July 28 from 11 a.m. to noon
    • Monday, Aug. 1 through Thursday, Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Lynchburg City Schools is distributing free breakfasts, lunches, and/or snacks at least three days a week at 20 different sites, most of which will operate until mid-July or early August.
  • Martinsville City Public Schools:
  • Montgomery County Public Schools says universal feeding is available until Thursday, June 30, with all summer school sites open for any student — even those not in the Summer Academy — to request a grab-and-go breakfast and lunch pickup for your student. To learn more about reserving those meals, call the School Nutrition Office at 540-382-1332.
  • Nelson County Public Schools will provide meals on a first-come, first-serve basis at the following sites and times:
    • Tye River Elementary School: Monday, June 6 through Thursday, June 23 on Mondays through Thursdays
      • Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
      • Lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    • Nelson County Middle School: Monday, June 6 through Thursday, June 23 on Mondays through Thursdays
      • Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
      • Lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Pulaski County Public Schools has more than a dozen meal sites that will serve food at various times throughout the summer. All students are eligible up to the age of 18, but there is no age limit for students with disabilities.

In addition, Feeding Southwest Virginia will be visiting communities with their mobile marketplaces. The organization also recommends texting “Food” or “Comida” to 304304 to find any summer meal programs near you.

Also participating in the program is the Roanoke Department of Parks and Recreation. The free meals will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis to all children for free at the following locations on Mondays through Fridays.

  • Indian Rock Village at 2034 Indian Village Lane
    • June 21 to Aug. 12 from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Jamestown Place at 1533 Pike Lane
    • June 21 to Aug. 12 from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Landsdowne Park at 2624 Salem Turnpike
    • June 21 to Aug. 12 from noon to 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, meals at the following sites are limited to children enrolled in the program, according to Roanoke Parks and Rec:

  • Apple Ridge Farm at Route 796/Copper Hill Road
    • June 27 to Aug. 4 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.
  • Eureka Recreation Center at 1529 Carroll Avenue
    • June 21 to Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.
  • Grandin Court Center at 2621 Barham Road
    • June 21 to Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.
  • Preston Park Center at 3137 Preston Avenue
    • June 21 to Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.