Kids Eat Here, a new local initiative to promote the federal Summer Food Service Program, aims to ensure that all students have enough to eat when school is out. “This initiative is all about leveraging resources to make sure no child goes hungry,” Mayor Jim Gray said Wednesday in announcing the kickoff. “We believe the program can reach even more children.”
Officials said the city spent $55,000 to fill 8,000 small bags with nutritious, kid-friendly food from God’s Pantry. The bags, along with fliers listing all the locations where children can eat breakfast and lunch this summer, will be distributed by family resource and youth services center coordinators throughout the school district. “More than 40 sites across the city will serve free meals in June and July. It’s easy access for the kids, and we want to make sure they know where to go,” said Stephanie Hong, director of Lexington’s Division of Youth Services. “These meals are available to any child regardless of family income level,” she added. “We want to make sure every kid has food.”
In addition to the bags, the Kids Eat Here initiative will distribute 800 food boxes to needy families through local community centers, supplying additional nutrition as they transition to summer break.
“During the summer, many children who typically receive free or reduced price meals through their school are left without this important source of meals,” said Marian Guinn, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank. “That’s why community partnerships such as Kids Eat Here are so vital to increasing children’s access to nutritious food through summer feeding sites. We hope more children will show up this year.”
Nearly 21,000 students in Fayette County Public Schools, or 53 percent, receive free or reduced-cost meals. The summer food program, however, is open to everyone.