Strawberries. Popsicles. Watermelon. Ice cream cones. The perfect summer foods every child dreams about. Yet not every child’s dream is his/her reality. Summer break or summer “vacation” is supposed to be a respite from school where kids have free time to enjoy with their friends and family. However, for the 1 in 5 kids in Kentucky who do not always know where their next meal is coming from, school is a safety net.
Many Kentucky schools provide free or reduced meals each day during the school year eliminating some of the hunger issues that plague our state. But summer is a dreaded time for those students who rely on the school breakfast and lunch programs for their meals. Summer is a two-month period where hunger may be a child’s closest companion.
The US Department of Agriculture provides kids with meals during the summer, through the SFSP (summer food service program). With public and private support, local organizations, schools and state Education Departments among others, partner to provide programs across the nation to offer nutritious meals free in places where kids are — libraries, summer camps and even farmers markets.
Awareness of the program is proving to be the one of the biggest challenges. Only 1 in thirteen low-income students in Kentucky who need summer meals participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), placing us 48th nationally on this indicator.
That’s why KyKidsEat exists. The KY Kids Eat campaign is working to connect Kentucky’s most vulnerable children with food where they live, learn, and play — to spread the word to communities, families, children, parents. With funding from Share Our Strength and the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB) established the KY Kids Eat campaign to increase participation in SFSP. Campaign participants include the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the University of Kentucky- Extension Nutrition Education, Jefferson County Public Schools, and nonprofits such as God’s Pantry Food Bank and Dare to Care Food Bank, among others.
So spread the word. To locate a summer feeding program nearest you text food to 877-877