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CANE Kitchen, local schools offering free meals for students this summer


Kids in Letcher County can get free meals through the mail or picked up by parents this summer through separate grants administered by the Letcher County Public Schools, and by Cowan Community Center and CANE kitchen.

Jenkins Independent School District has not yet settled on how it will run its summer meal program, but Superintendent Mike Genton said he is hoping it will operate as normal.

CANE Kitchen began distributing meals on Monday through a grant that Cowan Community Center normally uses to serve summer meals. Because of social distancing rules put in effect to stem the spread of Covid-19, congregate meals won’t be possible. Instead, the center and CANE Kitchen in Whitesburg are putting together boxed meals, including ingredients for cooking, that parents can pick up once a week.

“We’re sending home meals for seven days – breakfast, and lunch or dinner,” said Valerie Horn of Cowan Community Center and CANE Kitchen.

The meals are available countywide, are not income dependent, and do not interfere with other feeding programs, Horn said. The meals come through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agricultue.

“Just because they get food here, doesn’t mean they can’t go through the schools,” she said.

The Letcher County Public Schools is mailing food boxes with 10 days of food per child to every family that signs up by May 15.

Parents must register for the program on the Internet at mealstoyou.org/emergency-meals-to-you-application/

The Meals to You program will also provide two meals a day, and will continue through June 30. The program is paid for by a grant from the Kentucky Department of Education and Baylor University.

The schools will also continue their regular lunch pickup program through Friday (May 15), and will begin a summer meal pickup program May 26 that will run through July 31. Meals from that program can be picked up at Arlie Boggs Elementary School, Martha Jane Potter Elementary, and West Whitesburg Elementary.

All of the meals are at no cost to families, and any student in the county can be served, regardless of whether they attend the schools in the district.

The Jenkins Independent Schools program won’t begin until June, and the district hasn’t decided how it will do its program yet because

Jenkins Schools normally deliver summer meals to three or four pickup sites, and Superintendent Genton said he hopes to continue that this summer.

“Hopefully, what we’ll be able to do is just deliver to certain locations like we have done, because delivering to homes is a Herculean effort to say the least,” Genton said.

Like the Letcher District, the meals are available to any child in the district, if they attend school there or not.

CANE Kitchen is the pick-up site for the Cowan Community Center program, but the two groups are also considering opening other sites around the county as they see what areas respond to the service.

Families may register for that program on the CANE Kitchen or Cowan Community Center Facebook pages, or by sending an email to summermeals2020@gmail.com or acollier2015@hotmail.com; or by calling Ashley at 606-262-0864, or Brandon at (606) 634-6127.

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