Partnerships help Kentucky lead nation with summer food program
By Hilda Legg, Kentucky State Director, USDA Rural Development
October 30, 2019
Few things in life are as satisfying as watching a hungry child eat a nutritious meal. No child should go hungry, but once school lets out for the summer, many across the commonwealth of Kentucky may do just that.
An estimated 21% of school-aged children are in families living in poverty, and these children may not have access to healthy meals outside the school year.
This summer, USDA Rural Development teamed up with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Department of Education, and numerous community partners and volunteers for the Summer Food Service Program, which helps ensure children continue to get nutritious meals during summer break.
Because of those efforts and partnerships, Kentucky led the nation with 127 locations where nutritious meals and snacks were served, representing a 33% increase from 2018 and representing over 44% of USDA-financed sites reported nationally. The next closest state, Virginia, identified 60 USDA-financed sites that participated.
Children from approximately 4,000 rural Kentucky families had access to summer meals. The children either live at a USDA-financed multi-family complex or participated in summer meals at a USDA-financed facility, local school food service, or nonprofit sponsored site. An estimated 40% of children living in USDA-financed complexes have access to the Summer Food Service Program.
Summer meals at USDA-financed facilities are just a small part of the greater effort happening in Kentucky. We are happy to partner in Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles’ Hunger Initiative and Kentucky Kids Eat’s vast network of summer food service programs and nonprofits putting smiles on children, one bite of food at a time and providing summer learning opportunities.
Thank you to all who made this possible! I look forward to expanding our reach even further next summer, and I encourage anyone who’d like to participate to contact me at 859-224-7300.