This year, Grow Appalachia and Berea College sponsored the first open, mobile Summer Feeding program in Berea, Kentucky. Initial planning began back in mid-2015 and continued well until the last meal was served on August 9. Altogether, 13,880 meals were served to children ages 1-18, which equated to $44,519 saved in food costs to Berea families for the summer. Of course, the two month program didn’t come without its share of challenges, but that was certainly not unexpected. For this being the first year operating a program at this scale, Grow Appalachia and the SFSP staff believe it went much better than anticipated. Everyone is encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response that’s been received!
On Thursday the 25th the SFSP program was awarded a “Random Acts of BBQ” lunch, sponsored by Sonny’s BBQ. It was a wonderful afternoon of sharing, celebrating, good company…and barbecue! Attendees heard from various staff members, went through a slideshow of some pretty great pictures, and simply took the time to be reminded as to why this work is so important…and needed in communities! More than 40 key players, community members, partners, and even a few participants were in attendance. Partners include, but are not limited to:
- Berea College Partners for Education
- Berea College CELTS (Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service)
- Berea College Motor Pool and Public Safety
- Berea College Dining Services
- The Labor/Internship office at Berea College
- Berea Parks and Recreation
- Madison County Public Library
- Berea Farmers Market
- Glades Christian Church, Berea
- The USDA state office in Frankfort
- Union Church, Berea
- Hummel Planetarium, Richmond
- The Berea Citizen
- AND MORE!!!
The celebratory atmosphere and appreciation in the room was unmatched! (Also, the food was certainly delicious). Currently, Summer Feeding staff are diligently pursuing additional funding opportunities for the program so that Year 2 can be even better than Year 1. But although summer is over, providing meals to Berea children is not: In fact, plans are in the works to begin providing after-school meals to several schools in the area, with an anticipated start date sometime in September! Please stay tuned for updates on that exciting new project and opportunity to continue this good work! Additionally, a few Summer Feeding staff are working on writing and fine-tuning an operational manual that will hopefully be published later on as a guide for other colleges and universities interested in hosting a summer feeding program.
Lastly, we had the opportunity to hear from Alix Burke, an AmeriCorps VISTA who began working with Grow Appalachia in 2015; she was one of the early planners for the program and Grow Appalachia is delighted that she is staying for a second year! Here is what she had to say about the Summer Food Service program:
“As an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving in Berea, KY, the success of the Summer Food Service Program this year means a lot to me. Although I’m not from Berea, I graduated from Berea College in 2015 and this town is like a second home to me now. To be a part of a program that gives back to the community where I got my education feels good. Growing up, I was a kid that could have really benefited from an SFSP site- somewhere where my four siblings and I could hang out with friends, get a good meal with fresh, local ingredients and have fun. I’m happy to have helped make that possible for Berea kids!”
Check out a few of the pictures from the Random Acts of Barbecue lunch!
And finally, it’s been echoed many times and times over again, but on behalf of the Summer Feeding program, Grow Appalachia would like to thank the many sponsors, businesses, partners, individuals, Summer Feeding Staff, and countless additional “movers and shakers” that went above and beyond to make this program successful and beneficial to hundreds, if not thousands, of Berea families and children. See you all next year!
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