Community groups to offer food to students and their families during holiday break

By Lily Mott

Local nonprofits, like the Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA) and Washington and Lee’s Campus Kitchen, will provide extra support for families facing food insecurity during the holidays.

About 10% of households in Rockbridge County are food insecure, compared to the statewide average of 8%.

There are free meals available for RCPS and LCS students at Maury River Middle School over summer break, but not over winter break. (Lily Mott photo)

The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University provides food for Rockbridge County families with students through their Backpack Program and Mobile Food Pantry Program.

“In particular, our Mobile Food Pantry Program usually sees a significant uptick around the holidays,” said Campus Kitchen Coordinator Ryan Brink. The Mobile Food Pantry Program collaborates with RARA to deliver groceries to remote areas in Rockbridge County.

RARA operates a neighborhood food pantry for community members to shop for themselves four days a week. Households may visit once a week.

Executive Director of RARA Lindsey Pérez says they’ve seen greater need in the community due to inflation. Families are also receiving fewer benefits that were offered during the pandemic.

“We tend to see more around the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Pérez said.

Pérez encourages families facing food insecurity to visit RARA and stock up by Dec. 17.

Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA) provides groceries for families in need at their food pantry on Spotswood Drive. (Lily Mott photo)

Through the school year, families rely on free and reduced meals for their children. During the winter break, Rockbridge County Public Schools and Lexington City Schools are encouraging families to seek out support from the community.

“RARA is a great partner as well that we certainly encourage our families to reach out to RARA if they have needs,” said Jason White, director of operations and student services for Lexington City Schools.

RCPS’s federal nutrition funding does not cover meals over break. The other issue is a shortage of staff, said RCPS School Nutrition Supervisor Daphne Stickley.

“My staff needs a break, so we don’t actually offer anything for students once they’re out of school,” Stickley said. “Maybe we could do something, but we just don’t have the staffing to offer anything.”

For more resources and information about receiving food over the holidays in Rockbridge County, visit