Summer brings joy, freedom and fun events for most children in Lynchburg, but it also reminds some they won’t be receiving their weekly school lunches.
In preparation for this, the Lynchburg Daily Bread is gearing up to help feed children in the city living below the poverty level by stocking its cabinets at its headquarters at 721 Clay St. with nutritional snacks and protein-filled lunches and dinners.
Over spring break — the course of nine days — the organization fed more than 100 kids and gave away more than 200 dinner takeaway bags.
“We were not expecting that kind of volume,” Lynchburg Daily Bread Executive Director Tracey Dixon said. “So we put out a call on Facebook for help.”
Several groups responded and have donated food, but one in particular stepped up to fill a truck Thursday morning with 400 pounds of food, which will go on to feed 150 children.
The residents of Runk & Pratt at Liberty Ridge at 30 Monica Blvd. not only purchased food but also helped pack boxes into a Daily Bread truck Thursday morning. The facility has been open for five years and houses about 170 people. It supports both assisted and independent living for seniors.
“It is so inspiring that the seniors here at Runk & Pratt would want to help the younger generation downtown,” Dixon said. “It’s a neat way for two unique populations to cross and support each other and help each other. I’m just thrilled the seniors took this effort under their wing and want to be sure to feed hungry kids they’ve never met. They haven’t shared any life experiences; they’re helping a stranger today.”
Sterry Davis and her husband Larry decided to donate after they saw a poster advertising for the cause that was put up in the building three weeks ago.
Before moving to Liberty Ridge five years ago, the Davises lived in Concord and said they have been aware of the hunger problem in the area.
The couple went out together to pick up soups, cookies and applesauce to donate.
“It’s sad when you look at little children who go home and have nothing to eat and not even sure they’re going to have a dinner,” Sterry Davis, 82, said. “They need it for health and to keep their minds sharp.”
Thursday’s donation was just one of many the Davises said they are involved in throughout the year.
Lynchburg Daily Bread becomes overwhelmed with the amount of kids who need a meal, Dixon said.
According to Centra’s 2018-2021 Lynchburg Area Community Health Needs Assessment, 44.9% of the population lives at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level in Lynchburg and Almost half of children — 47.8% — living in the Lynchburg service area live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Dixon said many of those children receive help from the schools, but those under age 5 who are not yet in the school system still are hungry.
The Daily Bread aims to provide every child visiting Daily Bread during the day with a take-home dinner bag.
In the summer the Daily Bread sees up to 70 kids a day.
“There are some groups who will walk on their own with their brothers and sister and come get food from us,” Dixon said.
Many of the contents included pasta cups with meat, chips, fruit cups, peanut butter, and chips.
Dixon said the nonprofit is always looking for more healthy soups, pasta cups and protein to fill a child’s stomachwith nutrients.
Julie Wilson, activities director at Liberty Ridge, was one of many who saw the Facebook post Dixon had put up and decided to print posters to put around the facility three weeks prior to Thursday’s loading day.
Debby Ruffin, director of independent living and special events, said when staff put out the word, the residents responded in a big way.
“They always do,” she said.