FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2019
Local Organization Fights Childhood Hunger
HAMPTON, VA – Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative, VA BLOC, presented donations to Newport News Public Schools Child Nutrition Services and Hampton City Schools Food and Nutrition Services today to help erase school meal debt. VA BLOC members created The Care Project to raise funds and awareness about school meal debt and childhood hunger, while working towards policy change.
In Hampton City Schools, prior to June 5, 2019, school meal debt was sent to debt collectors, potentially jeopardizing the financial security of families who already struggle to make ends meet. As of June 5, 2019, the policy was changed to send school meal debt to the City Treasurer’s Office, but questions still remain as to the impact on the families. Furthermore, there are schools in Hampton that qualify for schoolwide free breakfast and lunch but have not been enrolled in the program. This means that about 3400 students are not receiving the benefit despite belonging to eligible school communities.
VA BLOC member Mahogany Waldon reflected on her personal story of living in the gap of eligibility saying, “Although my family made too much to qualify for free or reduced lunch, we still saw the financial strain that making ‘just enough to not qualify’ invokes.” Waldon continued, “If my parents, that were in a pretty stable socioeconomic status, had troubles or woes about the costs of school lunch then imagine how parents who fall into the income gap feel.”
Newport News Public Schools, in converse, has been proactive in expanding the free school meal program to eligible schools. Taking these measures is positively impacting the students as a direct correlation has been derived between access to meals during the school day and student health and success.
Tara Lynch, another member of VA BLOC, explained why the group is committed to amplifying the voices of affected families, stating, “no child deserves to go hungry.”
VA BLOC raised $3400 to help erase school meal debt this year as part of The Care Project and the amount was split between Hampton and Newport News for the checks presented today. Further, Lead Organizer of VA BLOC, Cameron Bell stated, “We are asking everyone in Hampton to reach out to their school board members and urgently ask for the remaining eligible schools to be added to the Community Eligibility Provision by the June 30th application deadline.” Bell continued, “This would be life-changing for the students at the remaining eligible schools. We look forward to furthering our work with community members on their requests for our school board representatives.”
To learn more about the project, please visit VABLOCCareProject.com
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Here are some pictures from today’s check deliveries to Hampton and Newport News