HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)–From the FeedMore community kitchen to the cafeteria at Highland Springs High, something is new on the after hours menu. Student-Athletes are eating it up, literally.
“I think it’s a great idea. You know, you’re out there in practice and then the heat starts to come up and you get really tired, you’re hundred. After school we run to get to the cafeteria,” said Taylor Meyers.
The school’s Activities Director Coach Rudy Ward said a pilot program is underway at the school, and it’s funded by the State Health Department. The goal is to feed athletes and those students who stay after school for extra-curricular programs. It’s proving to be a big hit.
Ward says it grew out of a pressing concern about athletes skipping meals and enduring long, rigorous workouts on the field.
Some student-athletes like Caleb Meyers and Justin Karn can attest to that. “I think they focus on getting to practice and being on time. They don’t worry about eating and all they want to do is to get on the field” Karns added.
“Weigh-ins are a big thing during wrestling season. People don’t eat so that they can make weight, then they forget to eat before the match,” Highland Springs wrestler Caleb Meyers said.
Coach Ward recalls a near tragedy involving one player. “He had heat issues. It was the first day of practice and he rushed in, didn’t eat. Had no food, wasn’t drinking properly,” he said.
Mother Tonya Meyers knows what an impact the Thursday after school meals have on the kids. She and school ROTC cadets serve the food.
The meals are prepared by Feedmore and the truck makes a stop once a week at Highland Springs High. There, Meyers and other volunteers help unload and set up for their 5:30 p.m. serving. At times they serve upwards of 150 students.
“I think it’s wonderful that we can help replenish them, make sure they have a good meal and then send them home ” Meyers explained.
Come August, when teams practice twice a day, Ward says the players will be offered a breakfast and a lunch.
The pilot program and partnership with FeedMore started in January at Highland Springs High School. Organizers say it’s been so successful they’re expanding it.
Ward says the Touchdown Club of Richmond has been very instrumental in helping them expand to other qualifying schools. “Through the Touchdown Club we’ve expanded to six schools in Henrico and in Hopewell.”
It’s a partnership Ward hopes will continue to grow.
We checked in with other school districts to find out if they had similar programs. In Richmond, we’re told there is an after hours feeding program for elementary students. Some of them are provided meals on the weekends.
The city program does not include high schools. In Chesterfield, spokesperson Shawn Smith tells CBS 6 News they currently offer an after school meal program during the school year at Providence Middle School.
He adds they are looking for other opportunities to expand their program.