Evening meal program, summer meals offered

Evan Martz, 6, of New Market, exits the food service line at Ashby Lee Elementary School as Robbin Lawrence, food service manager for the school, records his exit during a recent evening meal at the school. The hot evening meal is open to all students ages 5 to 18 three days a week at the school. Rich Cooley/Daily

An evening meal program is in progress at the southern end of Shenandoah County for students in need of a hot meal.

Beverly Polk, food services supervisor for Shenandoah County Public Schools, said students ages 5 to 18 can stop by Ashby Lee Elementary School three days a week for a hot evening meal.

“The parents that have been here have been very positive and they are glad that we have started a program there,” she said.

Meals that are provided include hamburgers, chicken patties, with vegetables, fruit and a milk, she added.

In order to start the program, she said, “I had been contacted by the Virginia Department of Health and also by the First Lady of Virginia’s office.”

Azra Tusing, 8, of Mount Jackson, picks up some fruit as she goes through the dinner line at Ashby Lee Elementary School recently. Rich Cooley/Daily

After those conversations, she said she was able to set up the program. The program is offered through the Virginia Department of Health and the program is able to claim reimbursement.

She said those qualified to participate in the program are those in the free and reduced lunch program at the southern campus schools. At this time, the program is only offered at the southern campus as a test run, with the possibility of expanding into the central campus in the future. Polk said the northern campus doesn’t qualify for the program based on its lower number of free and reduced lunch applications.

The program began in April and runs from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays through this month.

Polk said the number of people served in the program varies between 15 to 39 people.

“Our numbers are very low,” she said, adding that she believes the low number is due to transportation issues.

The students can eat for free and adults are charged for the meals.

Polk added that a summer feeding program will begin in July and continue through August and will allow students to receive a free lunch on the southern and central campuses. She said this program was only offered at the central campus last year.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com