Kentucky's summer feeding program provides free meals, teaches kids new recipes, more

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 18:01:43-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky’s Summer Feeding program is starting up again. The program has been around for some time but has undergone a few changes during the pandemic.

The program's manager says it's coming at a time where families need the help the most - given the rising cost of groceries and more.

Kids at The Kings Center in Frankfort are learning to make hummus, a part of Kentucky’s Summer Feeding program and a partnership with the local farmer’s market.

The Kings Center’s Executive Director, Deneen Petty, says, "There is no cost for any children to attend the program."

Kentucky’s Summer Feeding program distributes free meals for kids 18 and under, to more than 150 organizations, around 1600 locations, in the state. The Kings Center is one of those meal locations.

Petty says, "You see them happy that they're getting it. The parents are happy."

Leaders estimate that 1 in 5 children in Kentucky will experience childhood hunger. As food and grocery costs are rising the program's manager the need is greater.

Program Manager for the state, Cathy Gallagher, shares, "The economic conditions right now mean that more families probably need these meals for their children than ever."

In Fayette County, Food Chain gets many foods from local farms.

Food Chain’s Operations Director, Leandra Forman, says, "Our meals are unique in that we really prioritize fresh local nutritious foods."

During the pandemic, the USDA started a free meal program allowing families with emergency waivers to pick up food, to last kids several days. That program was not extended and ends this month.

Now, this summer program says children must eat at the location where meals are served. This can pose a problem for parents without transportation.

"We had parents coming to our to our meal handout last night who are saying that they weren't able to bring their kids to any of the summer meal sites this summer because of lack of transportation during the day,” says Forman.

Food Chain is working to provide additional centers closer to neighborhoods in need in Fayette County. In Frankfort, The Kings Center's director says more people need to know this is available.

"If you are near a feeding program, please support it. Go and get the meals, send others to get the meals, because we need to keep it going and show the importance of the program here in Kentucky,” says Petty.

Those looking for those free meals can text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 304-304 to find a location apart of the Kentucky summer feeding program near you.