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Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation in KY

GRAPHIC: A new report on Summer Nutrition Programs shows Kentucky is doing a slightly better job of helping children stay nourished when school’s out, although it still lags behind most states. Poster courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
GRAPHIC: A new report on Summer Nutrition Programs shows Kentucky is doing a slightly better job of helping children stay nourished when school’s out, although it still lags behind most states. Poster courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
July 17, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – School's out, but hunger doesn't take a vacation.

A new report from the advocacy group Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) finds more low-income children in Kentucky and across the nation are getting meals in the summer that they usually get when school is in session.

FRAC’s Summer Nutrition Status Report says last summer marked the first major increase in 10 years, but it also points out that Kentucky's improvement lags behind all but four states.

"It is a big concern because we don't want any Kentucky child to go hungry,” says Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “The logistics obviously of reaching kids when they spread to the winds – the challenges are the ones who are staying home with their family or visiting relatives."

The report shows that in Kentucky just under 8 percent of children in the school lunch program also participated in Summer Nutrition Programs last year.

That ranks Kentucky 46th and well below the national average of about 15 percent.

Signe Anderson, a senior child nutrition policy analyst with FRAC, says one way to increase those numbers is greater school involvement during the summertime.

"During the economic downturn, a lot of schools shut their doors and no longer offered summer school,” she explains. “And so, along with that, the summer means disappeared.

“If there's funding available for summer school or just summer programming in general, that would go a long way."

Anderson says FRAC also would like to see more involvement from cities, parks and recreation departments, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Kentucky has seen some innovations. For example, some school buses have been outfitted to travel around communities and provide kids with meals at more sites.

There also are efforts in some towns to provide meals at farmers' markets.



Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY