Summer brings fun and lazy days to kids across the county, but for the many families relying on school meals to feed their children, summer break can prove stressful as they try to fill the nutritional gap.
However, thanks to the Madison County Schools’ Summer Food Service Program and Berea Kids Eat by Grow Appalachia and Berea College, local children will have nearly 80 summer meal sites providing breakfast, lunch and dinner until school returns for most on Aug. 21.
Assisted in funding by the USDA, both programs feed students and children 18 years old and younger. There are no requirements for children to participate (aside from age). All they must do is show up.
The Summer Food Service Program has about 50 Madison County locations, while Berea Kids Eat has approximately 27.
Both entities have found success by partnering with the community. Schools, churches, local camps, the Madison County Public Library branches and other hubs will serve as summer feeding sites.
The Kentucky Association of Food Banks reports that only 1 in 12 students that eat free or reduced-price meals are connected to free summer meals in Kentucky and that kids are in need of over 5.8 million more summer meals to fill the gap.
Getting the word out is key, agreed Scott Anderson, Madison County Food Service director, and Martina Leforce, Berea Kids Eat coordinator, who noted feeding as many children as possible during the summer is their goal.
Last year, the two served a combined 64,168 meals — Madison County Schools served about 46,888 meals, while Berea Kids Eat served 17,280. The organizers say that this year, they want an even larger impact.
“It’s not about the numbers,” said Anderson. “It’s about reaching every child that needs a meal.”
Should children have a dietary restriction, Leforce and Anderson stated parents or guardians should let a site worker know for accommodations to be made.
Both programs were lucky enough to receive grant funding this year to source as much food locally as possible — a task both organizers had strived to do already.
“(Madison County Schools) works closely with Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, USDA and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. We are leading the state in buying fresh fruit and vegetables from farmers…if we can buy it local and fresh, we are going to do that,” Anderson said.
“(Meal sites) are also taking the economic risk away from parents trying to get their children to eat healthy foods,” said Leforce, adding that by trying fresh ingredients together, children are more likely to make healthier eating choices following positive peer reinforcement.
Additionally, Berea Kids Eat recently received a $3,000 grant from Anthem Medicaid, with assistance from the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, to increase their mobile routes, Leforce told The Register this week. This year, they will also offer weekend backpacks full of food, thanks to help from God’s Outreach in Richmond and Linda Ross of the Matt Ross Fund.
More than a meal, Berea Kids Eat also provides quality books to give to children on Wednesday at feeding sites so kids can start home libraries. And most sites, whether in Berea or Richmond, have activities for children to engage in before or after their meal.
There is no limit to the number meals either program can serve, according to both organizers. No parent should ever be hesitant to bring his or her children.
“The best way you can support (summer meals) is by using us,” Leforce said.
Meals in Madison County will be served at the following locations and times:
Madison County Schools Summer Food Service sites:
•Tumbleshine in Berea, Breakfast 8 a.m., Lunch 12 p.m., May 30 - Aug. 10.
•Grace Chapel, Dinner 7 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 15
•Adams Pointe Mobile, Lunch 11:30 a.m., May 30 - through Aug. 17.
•Irvine View Mobile, Dinner 4:30 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 17
•Northridge Apartments, Lunch 12:30 a.m., May 30 – Aug. 17.
•Dixie Plaza, Dinner 4 p.m., May 30 – Aug .17
•Brandy View Apartments, Lunch 12 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 17
• Lake Reba Mobile, Dinner 5 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 17
• Southern Hills, Dinner 3:35 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 17
• Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Lunch 11:30 a.m., May 30 – Aug. 17
•Glenn Marshal, Breakfast 7:30 a.m. Lunch 11:30 a.m., May 30 - Aug. 21.
• Madison Central, Breakfast 8 a.m., Lunch 11 a.m., May 30 - Aug. 21.
• Smith Village, Lunch 11:30 a.m., May 30 - Aug. 21.
• Madison County Public Library Richmond branch, Lunch 12 p.m., May 30 - Aug. 21
• Foley Middle School, Breakfast 8 a.m., Lunch 11:30 a.m., May 30 - Aug. 21.
• Daniel Boone Elementary School, Dinner 4 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 21
• Robinson Terrace, Lunch 12 p.m., May 30 – Aug. 21
For a complete list of sites and times visit the Madison County Food Service Facebook page.
Berea Kids Eat Meal Sites
Below is a list of meal sites hosting Berea Kids Eat from June 5 – Aug. 10. For additional sites and times visit the Berea Kids Eats Facebook page.
•Berea City Pool, Monday – Friday, Breakfast 9 a.m., Lunch 12:55 p.m.
•Jefferson Memorial Park, Monday- Friday, Lunch 11:35 a.m.
• Berea Skate Park, Monday – Friday, Lunch 2 :15 p.m.
• Glades Christian Church Monday – Fridays, Breakfast 9 a.m., Lunch 12 p.m.
• Madison County Public Library Berea branch, Monday – Saturday, 12 p.m.
• Berea Farmers Market, Saturdays, Lunch 10 a.m.
• Additional Monday – Friday locations are Elm Street 3:40 p.m.; Silvercreek Apartments 12:40 p.m.; Brooklyn Blvd Apartments 12:25 p.m.; Mary Street 3 p.m.; Blakewood Apartments 10:50 a.m.; Philips Street Mobile Home Park 11:40 a.m.; Hope Estates 2:30 p.m.; Pinnacle View 1:40 p.m. and Glades Village Apartments 10:50 a.m.