At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauquier County Public Schools and community partners quickly came together to find a solution to address the growing number of children and families experiencing food insecurity in their own community. And they had one vision in mind – to feed as many kids as possible.
Fauquier County’s School Nutrition team and the school system worked together to ensure kids continued to stay connected to school meals despite being in a virtual learning environment. School administrators and teachers supported school meal distribution planning, often volunteering to help hand out meals to kids. The transportation department was instrumental in delivering meals to children who could not easily access curbside distribution sites.
However, realizing that the ambitious goal of feeding all of Fauquier County’s children would only be possible with strong collaboration, communication, and community support, FCPS’ School Nutrition team connected with community organizations, such as Fauquier FRESH and Fauquier FISH, to better align program needs and support one another in filling gaps. This partnership set in motion plans for these community partners and the school nutrition team to continue nutrition education programming; provide bulk meals to children over the holidays; collaborate in the development of new menu items; and offer menu tastings to kids as they returned to in-person learning. Fauquier FRESH and FISH also helped to provide supplemental grocery items for children and their families accessing school meals throughout the county.
This all would not have been possible without the flexibility of USDA’s national waivers, which allowed School Nutrition Director, SueAnn Fox and her team to pivot and adapt to the ever changing environment.
“The waivers have been so beneficial for Fauquier County’s children, especially those children from families who are on the border of qualifying for other public benefits. These flexibilities helped to create an environment where we could make the most of school and community collaboration, allowing our community partners, FRESH and FISH, and our colleagues in the Fauquier Transportation Department, to help deliver meals to kids all across the county. Extended meal service times also allowed working parents to pick-up food at times that worked best for their schedule and allowed our teams to provide 7 days-worth of meals to ensure kids had something to eat every single day.” – SueAnn Fox, Fauquier County Schools Nutrition Director
This past school year, Fauquier County’s School Nutrition team and community partners were able to connect children to school meals at 75 mobile feeding sites, 20 schools, and 20 drive curbside pick-up sites, serving a total of 1,620,772 meals.
Through the waivers and continued collaboration this summer, Fauquier County was able to serve children at 3 mobile meals sites, leveraging No Kid Hungry Virginia grant funds to transport meals via refrigerated vans. The division also provided meals at 20 schools and 14 curbside pickup sites, serving an additional 338,651 summer meals. Since September 2020, a total of 1,959,423 meals have been served.
With the school year quickly approaching, the School Nutrition team at Fauquier County Public Schools looks forward to the continued collaboration between the school system and community partners to ensure Fauquier County’s children have access to healthy, nutritious school meals all year long.