Innovative Berea summer program cranks up now

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BEREA, Ky. (WTVQ) – In the summer, they are popular programs and especially needed to make sure kids’ nutritional needs are met.

That’s especially true in rural areas.

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But with schools out a month of more during the coronavirus outbreak, some of those valuable programs have jumped into action now. One is the Brea Kids Eat program, a partnership among Berea College, Grow Appalachia and the local public schools.

In Berea, more than 70 percent  of school enrolled youth participate in the free National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. During the summer months when school is out, hunger doesn’t take a vacation. With over 30% of area children living in households below the poverty level, as many as 1 in 5 children experience hunger, and even more families are food and housing insecure, according to the progam’s Web site.

While the food budget increases during the summer months, wages don’t increase alongside. Costs of childcare, increased utilities, and summer learning slides come at a great cost to working and middle class families as well.

Recognizing that food insecurity and childhood hunger are problems with solutions, Grow Appalachia and Berea College partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to meet the need.

Launched in 2016, Berea SFSP works with Berea College Sodexo Dining Services to prepare breakfast and lunch to youth ages 18 and under during the summer months.

During the coronavirus outbreak, it’s doing it now, too.

As a year round meal sponsor, the Berea Summer Food Service Program expanded to become Berea Kids Eat (BKE) in 2018.