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Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: more testimony on the anti-protest bill; plus we will take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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After Steady Gains, Virginia Sees "Slight Dip" in Summer Feeding Programs

PHOTO: While progress has been made nationally, Virginia saw a sight step back in the number of qualified, low-income children in summer feeding programs in the commonwealth in 2014. Photo courtesy of LetsMove.gov
PHOTO: While progress has been made nationally, Virginia saw a sight step back in the number of qualified, low-income children in summer feeding programs in the commonwealth in 2014. Photo courtesy of LetsMove.gov
June 4, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. - More low-income children across the country are being fed school-style lunches during the summertime, but that number is somewhat lower in Virginia than in previous years.

According to LaTonya Reed, director of Virginia Hunger Solutions, Virginia has made progress over the last several years getting children who qualify for low-cost school meals into summer feeding programs – but the majority of Virginia kids who qualify are still not being fed.

Reed adds there was "a slight dip" in last year's numbers. While she expects progress to pick up again, she stresses how far there is to go.

"Virginia is not among the bottom 10 performing states, but we're not among the top 10 performing states either," she says. "So there is certainly room for improvement."

The numbers are part of a just-released report from the Food Action and Research Center.

Reed says summer feeding programs are important for families that typically depend on lunches made available during the school year. She adds that many summer feeding programs also offer academic enrichment, which help fill the "scholastic gaps" that come with summer.

"They don't lose educational gains during the summer months," says Reed. "When they return to school in September, they can simply build from where they left off in June."

Virginia first lady Dorothy McAuliffe has made summer feeding programs a priority, and has worked to get more organizations involved to offer additional summer feeding sites.

Nearly 85 percent of Virginia children who qualify for summer feeding programs are still not taking part. According to Reed, getting more organizational partners on board to add more feeding locales is a crucial step in getting more Virginia children fed.

"There are plenty of opportunities for schools, parks, churches and other entities to become summer feeding sites," she says.

In the U.S., about 200,000 more low-income school children were in summer feeding programs in 2014 than in 2013. In Virginia, however, that number fell by two percent. Reed stresses that five out of six Virginia children who qualify are not yet in any of the available programs in the state.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA