Food distribution event in Petersburg aims to assist families in need before holiday break

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PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Amidst the season of giving, the City of Petersburg has teamed up with its school district to distribute food to students and their families before the start of winter break.

The partnership, which set aside $40,000 of funding for the project, hopes to feed nearly 400 families.

“We know that before COVID-19, there were some issues with families having sufficient amounts of food in the home, and we know nationally that after the pandemic, those numbers of homes in which has increased,” said Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin, superintendent of Petersburg Schools.

Sandra Jones-Epps, who attended the drive-thru food distribution event, told 8News getting the extra help, especially around the holidays, is a blessing.

“I am very thankful,” she said. “It’s really hard during the pandemic, and I just try to get, you know, what I can get.”

Superintendent Pitre-Martin said the district wanted to partner with the city for the giveaway because meal distribution won’t be available to its 4,100 students and their families during the upcoming winter break.

“We thought this was a good opportunity to provide additional food, knowing those two weeks would be without the meal distribution,” she said.

As of 1:30 Wednesday afternoon around 100 families had already received bags of food at Vernon Johns Middle School.

Dawn Rogers with Petersburg City Public Schools said it doesn’t stop there.

“We want to continue to do this in the future,” she said.

Pam Bell, who also works with the school system, said the 40-person team plans to continue its distribution effort into the month of January when students are back from break.

“After the break, we know the storms may come and then there will be another opportunity where parents will be home,” she said, “possibly snowed in, and so we’re just trying to be very proactive.”

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