Stressed Family Grocery Budgets Get Summertime Help

Summer means much higher food bills for families with school-age children. The Summer Food Service Program is there to ease some of the pain.

The COVID pandemic led the U.S. government to change the rules around summer food distribution for school-age children, and the result has been a boom in meals served to needy children during the summer months.

The Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank has for the past three years been a key player in distributing meals paid for through the Summer Food Service Program. In 2021, the food bank gave out 32,000 meals. That number doubled the following summer to 64,000, and last year the food bank handed out 147,000 meals.

This summer, food bank president Dan Maher expects that number to surge again to 225,000 over a 10-week period.

The growth, to be sure, is spurred by inflation crimping family budgets. However, it’s also due to the food bank “creating more awareness,” Maher says. “By being more predictably present, there’s a trust factor” that has developed between the food bank and those families it serves.

The summer program was “underutilized,” says Maher. But as trust has grown, so has word-of-mouth advertising. “It’s a powerful tool,” Maher continued, and it’s “bringing people out.”

Another factor in the program’s growth is efficiency.

The food bank now focuses on rural areas – partly because of federal regulations (“summer feeding has to be in a school neighborhood where 50% or more of the population gets free or reduced meals,” says Maher); and partly because Fredericksburg City Schools are handling the city’s school-aged children, allowing Maher to sharpen the food bank’s deliver focus.

“We are leaning into the rural” market, Maher said.

Need Increases in Summer

Summer may carry visions of vacations and eating out and travel for some, but for too many people in our community it’s a time when food scarcity becomes a more-prominent issue.

“People don’t often understand the role that schools play” in ensuring children have good meals to eat, says Maher.

During the school year, students who qualify receive both breakfast and lunch, and often also receive snacks. When schools are out, the onus for providing those meals falls on the home. And that can get expensive.

Over the past four years, grocery prices have jumped an astonishing 25%. That’s more than the overall inflation rate of 19%.

Even though year-over-year grocery price increases are slowing, it will take some time before people see their grocery bills drop. In 2023, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, grocery prices rose 5.8%. This year, they’re expected to rise another 2.2%.

To put that in terms of cold, hard cash, a basket of groceries in 2020 that cost $100 will cost $125.80 today.

With kids at home, it’s easy to see how the food budget over the summer can soar. The Summer Food Service Program can significantly ease that pain for families.

For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, contact the food bank at (540) 371-7666.

Food Pick-up Schedule

For 10 weeks, both grab-and-go meals and eat-in-place meals will be available throughout the greater Fredericksburg region. Locations, dates, and times for the summer follow:

Grab-and-go meals may be picked up through the summer at the following locations and times:

  • Brooke Point High School: 1700 Courthouse Rd, Stafford VA 22554
    Monday Grab N Go June 3, 2024-August 5, 2024, 11:15AM-12:45PM
  • Good Hope Baptist Church: 17223 Good Hope Rd. King George, VA 22845
    Friday Grab N Go, May 31, 2024-August 9, 2024, 11:15AM-12:45PM
  • John J Wright Educational and Cultural Center: 7565 Courthouse Rd,, Spotsylvania, VA 22551
    Thursday Grab N Go, May 30, 2024-August 8, 2024, 12:00PM-1:30PM, no delivery July 4, 2024
  • Lotus Academy: 7278 Ladysmith Rd Ruther Glen, VA 22546
    Wednesday Grab N Go May 29, 2024-August 7,2024 10:30AM-12:00PM, no delivery June 19, 2024
  • Mt. Tabor Baptist Church: 21795 Mattaponi Trail Milford, VA 22514
    Wednesday Grab N Go, May 29, 2024-August 7, 2024, 12:00PM-1:30PM no delivery June 19, 2024
  • New Liberty Baptist Church: 33030 Sparta Rd. Milford, VA 22514
    Wednesday Grab N Go May 29, 2024-August 7, 2024, 11:00AM-12:30PM, no delivery June 19, 2024
  • Oxford Mt. Zion Baptist Church: 25215 Zion Rd. Ruther Glen, VA 22546
    Wednesday Grab N Go, May 29, 2024-August 7,2024, 11:15AM-12:45 PM, no delivery June 19, 2024
  • Patawomeck Park: 25 Chopawamsic Pkwy, Stafford VA 22554
    Monday Grab N Go June 3, 2024-August 5, 2024, 10:30AM-12:00PM
  • Rehobeth United Methodist Church: 18580 Partlow Rd, Beaverdam, VA 23015 Thursday Grab N Go, May 30, 2024-August 8, 2024, 10:30AM-12:00PM, no delivery July 4, 2024
  • Sealston Elementary School: 11048 Fletcher’s Chapel Rd. King George, VA 22845 Friday Grab N Go May 31, 2024-August 9, 2024, 10:30AM-12:00PM
  • Thornburg Middle School: 6929 N Roxbury Mill Rd, Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA 22551
    Tuesday Grab N Go May 28, 2024-July 30, 2024, 1:30PM-3:00PM
  • Walmart Supercenter: 2533 Germanna Hwy Locust Grove, VA 22508
    Tuesday Grab N Go, May 28, 2024-July 30, 2024, 10:00AM-12:00PM

Children not receiving weekly boxes must remain onsite while consuming their meals at these locations:

  • Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank 3631 Lee Hill Dr. Fredericksburg, VA 22408 Friday On-Site Meals, May 31, 2024-August 2, 2024, 4:30PM-6:30PM *Family Game Night*
  • Howell Library 806 Lyons Blvd. Fredericksburg, VA 22406
    Tuesday-Friday On-Site Meals June 4, 2024- August 9, 2024 11:45AM-12:45PM, no service on June 19 and July 4
  • Salem Church Library: 2607 Salem Church Rd. Fredericksburg, VA 22407
    Tuesday-Thursday On-Site Meals June 4, 2024- August 8, 2024, 12:00-1:30PM, no service on June 19 and July 4
  • Spotsylvania Farmers Market 12150 Gordon Rd. Fredericksburg, VA 22407
    Saturday On-Site Meals June 1, 2024-August 24, 2024, 10:00AM-12:00PM

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