With summer in full swing, many students are enjoying their time away from the classroom. There's no homework. There are no tests.
However, with no school, there's no school meals either.
According to report Map the Meal Gap 2019, almost one out of every five Kentucky kids is food insecure. That means they are without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
During the school year, most children get at least two meals per day at school. Yet during summer, those children who are food insecure need help and may be unsure when and where their next meal will come.
Thankfully in Madison County there are several summer feeding programs ready to lend a helping hand -- the Madison County Schools' Summer Food Service Program and Berea Kids Eat by Grow Appalachia and Berea College.
Scott Anderson, Madison County Food Service Director, said last year they fed 95,000 for all three meals, which was double from the prior year. His goal is to reach 100,000 meals this summer.
"It sounds like a lot, but when you think of 1,000 kids who are hungry, and you add that up every single day, that's just a drop in the bucket," Anderson said.
Martina Leforce, Berea Kids Eat coordinator, said they've given out more than 75,000 meals in the past three years, including almost 18,000 last year.
Anderson said he's receiving a little extra help this year as well. Smokin' Jax, located in Berea, came to him with the interest of donating their barbecue. The partnership would make the county the first and only district in the state to work with a local restaurant to provide food to kids.
"It helps our kids experience what other kids experience. A lot of our kids that are having trouble getting food, their parents can't afford it, they don't go to restaurants, and if they do, it's something cheap like McDonald's. This is something in their neighborhood. It allows them to experience something others do, it opens up their eyes to other things that are out there," Anderson said.
It also shows how much our community is truly invested in our youth. And we hope others hop on board too, just like Smokin' Jax.
While we wish there was no need for summer feeding programs, we're blessed to have two providing much needed help in the county.
With so many locations spread across the county, there is no reason for parents to not take advantage of this wonderful -- and free -- opportunity for their children.