BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Thousands of Eastern Kentucky children will not go hungry this summer.
Many children receive free or reduced meals at school, and now that school is out, organizations are making sure they are fed.
One agency, KCEOC, plans to serve 55,000 meals this summer to children. The USDA sponsors the program.
They kicked off the program Thursday afternoon at the Barbourville Water Park in Knox County.
Children got to eat lunch for free at the event.
"It's really good," one girl said.
"You'll see the need out there. These children need the meals, and they're very appreciative of it," said Paul Dole, President/CEO of KCEOC.
KCEOC is providing the free meals to children under 18 all summer at several sites in Bell, Clay, Knox, Laurel, and Whitley Counties.
"During the school year, they're getting their meals at school, school lunches, but during the summer, unless we bring the mobile site to them, many of these children will go without anything to eat," said Dole.
"So by having summer meals available to those kids, it keeps these kids well-nourished for when they're ready to go back to school," said Janey Thornton, Deputy Secretary for Food, Nutrition/Consumer Services for the USDA.
The healthy meals are prepared each day.
Organizers say this is more than summer meals, it's an investment into the children's future.
"These kids are still growing and good nutrition is a very important part of all their growth, whether it's physical growth or their ability to learn," said Cathy Gallagher, Summer Food Service Program Consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education.
To find the nearest feeding site for your child, you can call KCEOC at 606-546-3152.