For Immediate Release – March 2, 2015
Office of the Governor
Contact: Brian Coy
Office of the First Lady
Contact: Lincoln Saunders
Phone: (804) 692-2565
Governor McAuliffe Announces $8.8 Million Grant to End Child Hunger in Virginia
WASHINGTON – Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe announced today that Virginia has been awarded an $8.8 million federal grant for an innovative project designed to help end childhood hunger in the Commonwealth.
The Virginia grant was among $27 million in awards announced by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a speech at the 2015 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.
Virginia’s proposal was spearheaded by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, and brings together key stakeholders from the Virginia Departments of Education, Health, and Social Services, as well as the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks and Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit focused on ending child hunger.
“Proper nutrition is a necessary ingredient for educational and economic success. In fact, it’s a certainty that students sitting at their desks with empty stomachs can’t concentrate on even the best teachers’ lessons. Our students must have access to good nutrition if they are going to be healthy and strong and build the thriving workforce we need for a new Virginia economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “The First Lady has been a major champion of these issues, and has made it her mission to end childhood hunger in Virginia. She has worked on this grant for more than a year, and her efforts are getting solid results.”
“We can’t expect Virginia’s children to be hungry to learn if they are just plain hungry,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “The Governor and I are thrilled to know that thousands of Virginia children will benefit from the initiatives we will implement through the Virginia Hunger-Free Kids Act Demonstration Project. Good nutrition is the cornerstone of educational success and building healthy communities.”
Made possible by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), the projects target areas or populations with elevated levels of food insecurity or gaps in nutrition assistance program coverage.
Under the Virginia proposal, the Department of Education will implement the Virginia Hunger-Free Kids Act Demonstration Project, which will test the impact of providing (1) three school meals a day to all children in select schools during the school year, (2) food for weekends and school breaks, and (3) more resources for low-income households to purchase food during the summer months when school is not in session.
“Too many children in America live in households that don’t always know where their next meal is coming from,” Secretary Vilsack said. “At USDA, we’re deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans, especially children, have access to a healthy diet, whether at home or at school. The goal of ending child hunger in America is absolutely achievable, and this new initiative will help us test innovated strategies for getting there.”
“I am pleased that Virginia will be receiving funding from USDA to help the one in six children in our state who face a constant struggle against hunger. Today’s grant award is a recognition of all the work that Governor and Mrs. McAuliffe have done to reduce childhood hunger in Virginia,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner who advocated for the funding. “This funding is available because of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which included the first reforms to school lunch and breakfast programs in more than 30 years. I was proud to support that legislation because we need innovative strategies to tackle the challenge of childhood hunger, and I look forward to supporting the Virginia Department of Education in these efforts.”
“I applaud USDA’s announcement of $8.8 million for a new project to provide food to children in food-insecure communities in Virginia during the school day, on weekends, and during the summer months,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who also advocated for the funding. “Children can’t learn when they’re hungry, and this project – one of five USDA selected across the nation – will bolster access to food while providing important information about the links between childhood nutrition and academic achievement.”
Governor McAuliffe and the First Lady will be announcing additional details on the award in the coming weeks.
The announcement was part of USDA efforts during National Nutrition Month to focus on poverty and food insecurity among children, especially in rural areas. These projects will be tested in Kentucky, Nevada, and Virginia, as well as the Chickasaw and Navajo tribal nations.