The Warren County Schools’ Summer Food Service Program is providing free meals for children in the division at a local school as well as through delivery vans and food backpacks.

The program began Monday and continues through July 18 at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, where lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“This location serves all of the students participating in summer programs provided at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, other Warren County schools programs that are able to be transported to this location, as well as serving any child who is 18 years of age or younger with no qualification necessary,” said SueAnn Fox, food and nutrition services coordinator for Warren County Public Schools. “Adults are also able to purchase a meal for $2.75 if they would like to join in.”

Fox said meals include up to two servings of fruit, two servings of vegetables, a meat or meat alternative serving, two servings of grain and low-fat milk.

“So far, we have had fresh strawberries, watermelon, apple slices, baby carrots, broccoli and are looking forward to fresh peaches, oranges, tangerines and plums thanks to the generosity of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services program,” she said.

Charity Steed, whose three kids are taking part in the program, said the meals at E. Wilson Morrison were beneficial to her kids.

“It was really nice,” she said. “There were a lot of kids there. The people were really nice.”

Aside from the lunches served at E. Wilson Morrison, the Summer Food Service Program also includes the Summer Meals For Kids vans, which bring lunches to kids who can’t make it to E. Wilson Morrison for lunch. Fox said the vans deliver at six sites, including Ressie Jefferies Elementary School, the Front Royal Church of the Nazarene and Skyline Vista Apartments.

“Our delivered meals include the same items as served at E. Wilson with the only difference being a sub or sandwich on two of the days rather than the hot entree,” Fox said.

The vans deliver food Monday through Thursday. Fox said that this year the program has added a hot meal choice to the delivery locations on Mondays and Thursdays. She said the district is serving six sites with the vans.

A new addition to the Summer Food Service Program this year is the food backpacks. Fox said the district has partnered with The Front Royal Back Pack organization to provide and deliver packs of food for children at the van delivery sites every Thursday. The food items in the backpacks include dry foods like cereal and pasta.

Fox said program had averaged 135 kids at E. Wilson Morrison and about 20 from the van on most days in past years.

“We are now serving all days, so we are now serving 73 plus [kids] each day on the van routes and still around 135 at E. Wilson Morrison,” she said.

Katie Humenik, of the schools’ Nutrition Services Department, said: “We’re getting more and more kids every year. Word is definitely spreading about the program.”

Summer Food Service Program meals are provided on a first-come, first-served basis at the various sites throughout Front Royal and Warren County. Humernik said the district is looking into how to handle backpack deliveries for July 4 since it’s a holiday.

For a complete schedule of the times and locations taking part in the program, visit www.wcps.k12.va.us/index.php/summer-food-service-program.

– Contact Donald Lambert at dlambert@nvdaily.com