For the second year, Kroger Mid-Atlantic and the United Way of Southern West Virginia have partnered to implement “The Unexpected Meal Program” — a program that aims to eradicate childhood hunger in the community, specifically targeting children in need in Mount Hope and Ansted.

For the 2019-20 school year, the release said Kroger has committed an additional $10,000 to the program. The donation will go towards the purchase of food items and the resources necessary for successful distribution.

Currently, Fayette County schools utilize feeding programs to ensure their at-risk students receive free breakfast and lunch on days that school is in session. These same children often go hungry when school is not in session, which is why the “Unexpected Meal Program” was created.

The release said the program supports those students by increasing weekend meal bags going home to children identified as in need; distributing “grab and go” meal bags to students during planned and unplanned school closures; and funding community meals while school is closed.

“For many children, holiday breaks and unscheduled school closings are reason to celebrate," said Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic. "For others, unfortunately, it’s a time of uncertainty and worry because their next meal is not always guaranteed.

“Feeding our communities is something that we’re passionate about at Kroger, and this partnership is especially important to us because we’re able to accomplish that while lending a hand up to the next generation.”

During the pilot year of the program, which took place in 2018-2019 school year, at-risk children in Mount Hope and Ansted were served on 13 occasions, including snow days, holidays and teacher workdays and other unexpected school closings.

On those days, the release said 190 food boxes and 1,020 bags of food were distributed to local children, resulting in more than 5,100 meals served.

“United Way is happy to once again partner with Kroger to diminish childhood hunger through ‘The Unexpected Meal’ program in Fayette County," said Michelle Rotellini, executive director of United Way of Southern West Virginia. "The children that would not have eaten had Kroger not stepped in to fill the gap will have one less worry this school year.

“Learning and thriving in school is difficult when you are hungry and have adult worries, like where your next meal will come from. We want our children to thrive and be well equipped to learn. It is more important to our community than some realize. After all, these kids are our workforce and community leaders of tomorrow."

Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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