Summer Programs Set to Provide Meals and More For Young People in Highland County


Organizations are teaming up to help young people have ample food this summer.  Sarah Rexrode, Director of the Highland County Department of Social Services, tells us more.  She says, “The Virginia Department of Social Services is participating in the Summer Food Service Program through sponsoring local agencies who are also willing to participate.  Meals will be available to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.  Meals are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

“In Highland, the Highland County Public Library has teamed up with the Department of Social Services to serve as the meal site for lunches.  Lunches will be served at the library, which is located at 31 North Water Street in Monterey beginning June 13, 2019 and will be served from June 13th to August 9th on weekdays from 12:00 to 12:45 p.m.  Of course, there will be no lunch served on July 4th.  This year, we will be administering the program in correlation with the Highland County Public Schools’ Summer School Program and the library’s Summer Reading Program, which kicks off June 10th.”

The Department wants the public to know about another program that addresses food needs.  Ms. Rexrode says, “We will also be working with the Summer Kid Packs Program for distribution of bagged, family-style foods provided by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  Participants have to answer an anonymous, short four-question survey about the number of persons living in their home and whether or not they are currently or have previously received SNAP Benefits or food from the Food Pantry before.  The bags of food are about 12 pounds each in weight, and this participation is coordinated by Highland Elementary School Principal, Theresa Blum.  Packs will be available on June 5th, July 10th, and August 7th and can be picked up at the library or Highland Elementary School.”

Ms. Rexrode shares some of the stats of the county, highlighting the importance of food assistance programs.  She says, “Highland County Public School participates in the School Nutrition Program for their total school population, which includes about 207 members, so part of that program is also the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, of which 106 students are eligible for fee lunch and 25 are eligible for reduced lunches throughout the school year.  This is a total of 131 students, over half of the school’s total population.  By participating in the Summer Food Service Program, we hope to ensure that all of those children have access to healthy lunches even when they are not in school throughout the summer.”

Volunteers known as Site Supervisors are needed for the Summer Meals Program at the library, where Tomi Herold is the librarian.  Ms. Rexrode says, “A Site Supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the meals are served in a non-discriminatory way.  You don’t have to be available every day, but every little bit of help is greatly appreciated.  Tomi has coordinated a lot of the Summer Reading Program activities around the Summer Meals Program, so children and their parents will probably already be at the library.  Certainly, those adults are also welcome to come in and participate in the program.”

“Those with questions about the Summer Reading Program should contact the Highland County Public Library at (540) 468-2373.  If you have questions about the Summer Meals Program, contact the Highland County Department of Social Services at (540) 468-2199, and to find out more about the Summer Kid Packs Program, folks should contact Theresa Blum at (540) 468-6360.”

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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