• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Library partners with schools to feed kids this summer

LUNCH BUNCH AT THE LIBRARY has been popular among families this summer. Versailles mom Melissa Willoughby regularly brings her children, from left, Zion, Jenna and Joshua, to the Woodford County Library for lunch. “I love it because it’s encouraged them to get involved in reading,” she said. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

This summer, the Woodford County Library has continued to expand its role as a community center through a partnership with Woodford County Public Schools, serving 1,360 lunches (free for children and $3 for adults) in June.

“It’s taken off and it’s doing quite well,” said library Director Karen Kasacavage of Lunch Bunch, which will continue to serve meals to families from noonto 1 weekday afternoons in July, with special children’s programs on Tuesdays.

“There are days that we’ve had well-over 100 people here,” said Kasacavage, with an average of 70 people a day coming to the library for Lunch Bunch.

Melissa Willoughby said she regularly brings her home-schooled children, Zion, Jenna and Joshua, to Lunch Bunch so they can make social connections with other kids in the community.

“I love it,” she said of bringing them to the library for lunch, “because it’s encouraged them to get involved in reading.” And for other families, who are food insecure, she said, “I think it’s awesome. They have really good lunches.”

Courtney Quire, food service coordinator for Woodford County Public Schools, said this was the first year that the district’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was offered at the Woodford County Library on an ongoing basis, and “it’s gone really well.” Meals were provided to children in library reading programs last summer, but only once a week at various parks, she said.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Quire said SFSP provides meals to children during the summer months to bridge the gap between the National School Lunch Program, which provides low-cost and free meals to students during the school year.

During the months of June and July, Quire said the program will provide meals to children at 17 different sites in the county, but most do not operate every day of the summer.

Meals are provided to children five days a week (Monday through Friday) at four locations: the Woodford County Library, Falling Springs Arts & Recreation Center, and Simmons and Northside elementary schools, Quire said.

“The goal,” she said, “is to get as many meals to kids who need them during the summer months when they’re not in school to receive meals.”

The program served about 6,500 meals in June compared to 4,042 last June, 1,822 in June 2016, 1,352 in June 2015 and 1,187 in June 2016, according to Quire. Need and serving meals at several sites in the community have both played a role in those numbers trending up, as well as having “some pretty good meals too,” Quire said. The lunches, which she described as “meals that kids actually want (rather) than a lesser-quality meal,” include local produce from Eckert’s-Boyd Orchard and Bluegrass Aquaponics, “and … better (government) commodities.”

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