PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Education Secretary John King, and Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe stopped by Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Petersburg to kick off the start of the summer meals season.
During the kick-off celebration, McAuliffe along with Vilsack, King, and USDA officials served breakfast to kids, visited classrooms, and made summer meal flyers with young students.
“This is a nation-wide effort,” McAuliffe said, “but in Virginia as well we are focusing on making sure kids have access to summer meals. It’s so important.”
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott and Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton also addressed a crowd of people in the gymnasium and spoke about the importance of the program and spreading awareness.
“Kids who are hungry are not ready to learn,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “About 4.5 million kids are impacted and affected by the summer feeding program. The problem are in the free and reduce lunch program.”
The USDA says the Summer Food Service Program ensures that low-income children continue to receive access to nutritious meals throughout the summer. According to the USDA, each year, millions of meals are served to children and teens at over 50,000 sites statewide through the duration of the summer.
Vilsack said they are still looking to expand and help reach and serve as many kids as possible.
“We’re looking at an EPT card like a VISA card,” Vilsack said, “that would be given to families in a number of states to test market whether or not that makes more sense in terms of being able to provide help and assistance to families.”
For more information or to find a participating summer meals location, CLICK HERE.