No Summer Vacation from Hunger in Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. - More children from lower-income families in Kentucky are getting summer meals, according to a new national report, but the analysis also shows there's still a huge need to feed more kids.
The Food Research and Action Center's annual tally says Kentucky increased participation in summer nutrition programs by 10 percent last year over 2014.
However, fewer than eight percent of children eligible for these meals participated.
Marian Guinn is CEO of God's Pantry Food Bank, which sponsors summer feeding in 10 counties. She says transportation is one major hurdle.
"The challenges are kids aren't necessarily all in centralized locations over the course of the summer," says Guinn. "The challenge is just actually getting the kids to come. It's just not as simple as during the school year, when all children of a certain age are supposed to be in school five days a week."
The report looks at participation in summer meal programs compared to those who receive free or reduced-price school lunches during the school year.
Only Oklahoma and Mississippi fed summer meals to a smaller percentage of low-income children last year.
Guinn says summer feeding sites take on many shapes and forms, from libraries and bookmobiles to parks and grassy areas at housing complexes.
She says hunger becomes an even bigger problem when kids are on summer break.
"Addressing childhood hunger is so important because it contributes to the health and well-being of this young, maturing body," Guinn says. "Access to nutritious, appropriate meals reduces obesity; it helps kids to stay healthy."