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Kentucky Makes Strides in Fighting After-School Hunger

Along with providing meals and snacks, after-school supper programs offer homework help and other enrichment activities to keep children engaged. (USDA)
Along with providing meals and snacks, after-school supper programs offer homework help and other enrichment activities to keep children engaged. (USDA)
October 17, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky is making progress in ensuring kids don't go to bed on an empty stomach.

According to new data from the Food Research and Action Center, more than 17,000 low-income children participated in after-school supper programs each day on average in October 2017. That's a 16 percent increase from 2016.

Elizabeth Fiehler, child and adult care food program manager at the Kentucky Department of Education, said the meals help stave off hunger until children can receive a school breakfast in the morning.

"This program is intended to create a continuation of the meals that the children receive throughout the school day," she said. "So, they get breakfast and lunch at school and then this program would provide a supper and/or a snack, which would continue that day for them."

However, she added, just one of every 25 low-income Kentucky kids who received a free or reduced-price lunch also received an after-school supper. The report noted that because after-school suppers are a relatively new option, all states have room to grow participation.

After-school supper programs typically are held at churches, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and other community organizations. Fiehler said there's a great need for additional public and private funding to increase the number of after-school programs where meals can be hosted.

"We are looking for any community partners that maybe have a program like this that they'd like to start or a program like this that they've already implemented so that we can then incorporate the meal into the existing program," she said.

In addition to meals and snacks, she said, after-school programs offer learning enrichment activities to keep children engaged. Nationally, more than 1.2 million kids participated in after-school suppers on an average weekday in October 2017.

The report is online at frac.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY