BRISTOL, Va. - A childrens' food program has run into a snag, and that's leaving some students scrambling for a meal.
A feeding program provided through a Department of Agriculture grant has left some families packing lunches that would have otherwise provided a hot nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack. We found some agencies have been approved, while others have not.
For the past six years, Chef Richard Erskine has received grants to provide hot lunches for several childrens' agencies and summer feeding programs. The grants come through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but this year there's been a problem.
While agencies like the Boys and Girls Club receive their lunches each day, others who've been involved with the program for decades, like Girls, Incorporated just around the corner, are not. "Last Tuesday we found out at 3 p.m. that starting Wednesday, the grant had been cut through the USDA. So overnight we had to figure out to let our families know that the children would not be fed breakfast and lunch at Girls, Inc.," President and CEO of Girls Incorporated Amy Barker-Phillips said.
"It's a paperwork thing, a politics thing. We actually did feed over a thousand dollars worth of meals that the USDA is not going to reimburse because the application has not been signed, and we're still waiting on that," Chef Richard Erskine says.
In the meantime, the children are packing at Girls, Incorporated, which was unexpected for the families of their girls. "It's very devastating to some of our parents. A lot of them do not have the money to feed their children. So they had to figure out how to pack them lunch, and we wanted to make sure we could provide for those who could not provide anything," Barker-Phillips said.
For the older girls, that may be a trip to the convenience store across the street. "Some are going across the street to Hillbilly Market and buying different snacks. Mostly chips and cookies, not really the healthiest of foods," Consuelo Franklin says.
To some of the girls it's just a convenience; to others it's how they are getting meals until school starts. "At the end of the day what we're most concerned about is our children are not being provided a breakfast and lunch, and they're hungry," the Girls, Incorporated president said.
Girls, Incorporated is accepting donations of snacks for their girls until the situation gets sorted out.