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Ky. organizations taking on challenge of keeping kids fed over summer break

Some school districts in central and eastern Kentucky are already finished with the school year.
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
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JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Some school districts in central and eastern Kentucky are already finished with the school year.

However, some children who depend on school breakfast and lunch still need to be fed. Two barriers are in the way that could make it more difficult to feed the need this summer.

“There are two times in a year where hunger is particularly pronounced. One is during the holidays when we are trying to do all the things we are trying to do during the holidays. The other is at the beginning of the summer when school ends and children need support during the summer,” said Michael Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank.

Halligan’s organization covers central and eastern Kentucky. Last summer, the number of children fed through this program reached about 70,000. He says that number will go up this summer.

There are two economic hurdles that have Halligan’s attention, inflation and a national school lunch program funded by Congress set to expire June 30.

“Finding different ways of getting food to kids when school is not in session is a really important thing for all of us to think about,” said Halligan.

Lee Ann Conner is already thinking about it. She is the Food Service Director at Jessamine County Schools. Schools in her district are already out for the summer. Inflation will impact her Summer Feeding Sites.

“We are unsure of the amount of reimbursement we will receive for every meal starting July 1, so we are operating as financially responsible as we can,” Conner said.

Last summer, Jessamine County Schools served 500,000.

“That’s a lot of meals,” Conner said. “That’s a lot of food and it’s a hard number to comprehend.

This is just the beginning of summer. But organizations like these are finding alternative ways to close the hunger gap.

Jessamine County starts its Summer Food Program next Tuesday.

If you have a child in need, text the word food to 304-304, enter your zip code and a message will show you where the closest summer food program sites are in your area.

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