86 degress. Bright sun, little wind, and rising temperatures. On top of that you’re hungry and the nearest food site is 5 miles away and being 10 years old you can’t drive and your parents are working. That’s a total of 10 miles of travel for the day, alone. In theory, the site sounds close. The reality is that it’s not close enough.
States across the nation deal with this problem every summer. Towns work to find more sponsors to increase the number of sites available in order to feed more kids. However, because the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federal program there are regulations that must be adhered to. One of those regulations is that the food provided at the site must be eaten at the site as well. Therefore these food sites are often set up in places like public parks, churches, and Farmer’s Markets where there are open spaces, kitchens, and equipment to set up meals.
Yet there are kids who live in apartment complexes or on the outskirts of town far from these sites. These kids are often forgotten and must endure the long summer, hungry.
However, mobile sites have been on the rise to reach these children who are unable to get to the food sites themselves. Mobile sites are often a school bus that travels to different “stops” on the route and provides food to children in more rural areas. The kids must still consume the meal at the site but now they are finally getting the food they need and deserve.
In 2014 Alabama delivered meals to 98,000 children during their first year of having mobile sites (http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/sfsp/SMT-Mobile_Feeding.pdf). Other states have similar success stories, and it’s time for Kentucky to join that group. Kentucky is currently ranked 49th in the nation with only 1 in 13 low-income children that received a free or reduced price lunch at school receiving a summer meal..
Mobile sites are an important part of the future to ensure all kids who need food in the summer receive it. Proof already exists that mobile sites are making a huge difference by feeding more children and helping to decrease the percentage of kids who go hungry each summer.
It’s time for Kentucky to invest in more mobile sites to reach more rural children who desperately need to be fed.