National studies indicate only one of seven children who receive a free or reduced school lunch gets a similar meal over the summer. An official with the State Department of Education anticipates Kentucky's statistics are even more sobering.
Kathy Galliger says logistics and a scarcity of sponsoring groups, create the biggest barriers to getting food to hungry kids in the summer. She is with the state's summer food service program.
While her agency doesn't track such numbers, Galliger suspects Kentucky's figures are even worse than the one-in-seven national statistic. Still, she says there are federal dollars to pay for food. "Yeah, we have enough money. Definitely, it's not a problem with money. The sponsors are reimbursed by a meal rate times the number of meals," said Gallinger.
Galliger says, in rural states like Kentucky, establishing enough feeding sites is one of the biggest challenges. She says, 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. 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," added Gallinger.
In Lexington, there are 35 feeding sites with hopes of establishing another 35 this summer. Rick Christman with the non-profit Employment Solutions says there are criteria for setting up feeding locations. "You have to establish a feeding time. You have to monitor the meals to make sure there's no adults getting the food. You have to make sure that the children eat the food. So, there's a lot of complex things in managing this program," said Christman.
Christman says many of the workers with Fresh Approach, the organization that helps put the meals together, are severely disabled. As a result, he says, the summer program provides work for people who need it as well as food for the kids.