While volunteering for the free summer food service program held in Colonial Beach last year, Linda Murphy said she would often see parents come in and watch their children eat, yet not eat themselves. “It was heartbreaking to see.” Murphy and other volunteers hated to see these families unable to eat together, so sometimes they would pay for the parent’s meal themselves. This is what started the sponsorship for adult meals pilot program that is taking place this summer.
Murphy, who is the deacon of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oak Grove, started with this VA Department of Health program last year as a volunteer, but after being fully trained is working as the volunteer site director and spearheading this new feature for the program. This sponsorship program is designed to help pay for the cost of the meals of the accompanying parents. As site supervisor, Murphy keeps an eye on everything, making sure that everything is in compliance with the protocol of USDA as well as helping out with daily reports and serving. She has also taken the time to post flyers and reach out to local churches, stores, organizations and community members. In doing this, she said she first of all wants people to know there is this opportunity for free meals, as well as to ask for volunteers to help serve and to ask for sponsors for a meal for a parent. “If everyone in Colonial Beach sponsors one meal, everyone would get to eat.” Murphy has gotten St. Peter’s Episcopal Church involved with handling the paperwork for those who wish to donate, and has gotten local Boy Scout troop members to volunteer to serve. Currently, members of Troop 255 in Oak Grove are helping to serve lunch as part of their Star Scout service project.
So far this summer, they haven’t seen a large attendance, which may be due in part to lower numbers in summer school and the program starting earlier this year. The program started in June this summer, whereas it usually begins after July 4th. The program runs the same time as summer school, but is open to all children and parents in the community and surrounding areas and all are encouraged to attend.