City summer food program brings fresh, local food to children

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — During the school year, almost 60% of students in Staunton City Schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. That ends when the school year does, so the city is filling that gap with summer food services at different locations.

Amanda Warren, school nutrition director, said the program is about expanding food access to the entire community. Warren said they've expanded to some new locations this year, hoping to reach more areas of the city.

"We want to bring in any location where we feel like we can reach children, and where we can expand food equity, food access, and of course bring in local food."

One of those new locations, Willow View Apartments, feeds around 25 kids every day. Christine Clifton, community manager, said the food brings children together.

"They're coming in, sitting down, having lunch together," Clifton said. "They're of course getting their bellies full. They are enjoying each other's company."

Warren said local food is also an important part of the program. On Wednesday, the ham came from a local farm in Stuarts Draft, and students could try lettuce grown by Project GROWS in Verona.

Warren said about they serve around 420 children every day, between children from the community, summer schools, parks and recreation, and the YMCA camps.