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Summer Feeding Sites for Children on Free Lunch Programs

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National studies indicate only one of seven children who receive a free or reduced school lunch gets a similar meal over the summer. 

Kathy Galliger, an official with the State Department of Education, said logistics and a scarcity of sponsoring groups, create the biggest barriers to getting food to hungry kids in the summer. While her agency, the state's summer food service program, doesn't track such numbers, Galliger suspects Kentucky's figures are even worse than the one-in-seven national statistic.  Still, she said there are federal dollars to pay for food.

"Yeah, we have enough money,” Galliger said. “Definitely, it's not a problem with money.  The sponsors are reimbursed by a meal rate times the number of meals."

Galliger said, in rural states like Kentucky, establishing enough feeding sites is one of the biggest challenges.  

The vast majority of kids who receive free and reduced lunches in school don't get the same meals from June to August according to an administrator with a state summer food program. Galliger said, although mobile services are dispatched in certain areas, Kentucky's rural topography makes it difficult to get government-subsidized meals to children in the summer.  

"A vehicle actually goes out to rural areas, neighborhoods,” Galliger said. “I had one sponsor call and say 'can we make a wide place in the road a stop for our mobile route.’  I said, 'if it's safe, yes.’"

Feeding hungry children in the summer requires mobile services and more sponsoring agencies.   Rick Christman with the non-profit Employment Solutions said there are criteria for setting up feeding locations.

"You have to establish a feeding time,” Christman said. “You have to monitor the meals to make sure there are no adults getting the food.  You have to make sure that the children eat the food.  So, there are a lot of complex things in managing this program.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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