One Lunch at a Time
According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, from 2005-2009, the US poverty rate was at 13.5%. In Kentucky’s Appalachian region, the rate was 24.5%. Three of the most impoverished counties in America are right here in Kentucky’s Appalachian region — Owsley County has an astounding poverty rate of 41.2%, Martin County of 39.2%, and McCreary County has a rate of 37.3%. That is approximately 4 out of every 10 people are living in poverty in these counties. Something must be done, and because of your support, something is being done.
In each of these counties, CAP has programs in place to fight against these staggering statistics. Programs such as Family Advocacy, Prescription Assistance, Housing, and Elderly Services are present in Owsley, Martin, and McCreary counties. In Owsley and McCreary, programs like Parents Are Teachers are created for Developmental Interventionists to assist parents with early detection and prevention of learning disabilities in young children. In McCreary and Martin counties, Child and Family Development Centers are in place for children to have the chance to receive a quality head start on their education without their parents having the financial burden of preschool.
One of the most difficult consequences of poverty is the daily challenge of wondering how to feed your family. During the school year, free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs provide a relief to parents knowing their children will be fed at least twice in the day. During the summer months, their safety net of school meals are removed and anxiety rises, “What are we going to do?”
CAP’s Summer Feeding Program serves lunch to families throughout McCreary County through the summer. Monday through Friday lunch is served between 11:30am and 12:30pm at the local community center. Each day, CAP participants arrive for a meal. Two other locations also provide lunches — a church and a home. In addition to lunch, CAP provides food for five Bible schools in evenings through the summer. On average, each week CAP serves 225 children, seniors, and individuals in desperate need.
One participant, Mandy and her grandmother Darla, depend on these lunches every day. Mandy is 11 and lives with her grandmother. Darla is a loving grandmother whose main goal is to raise her grandchildren and make sure they have a happy life. Mandy attended the Child and Family Development Center for preschool and now takes part in the after school SPARK program. Living on a very limited income, Darla is very conscientious of how much she spends each month. CAP is a blessing to provide meals, education, after-school care and a means of socialization all for free.
Darla has some health issues and Mandy was born without her left forearm and hand. Mandy doesn’t let her disability stop her — she stays involved in all the activities in the SPARK program and she even helps other children when she can.
It is programs like these, right in the heart of Appalachia, in a county with more than a third of its population suffering from the grips of poverty, that there shines a light. The Summer Feeding Program offers more than just a meal to families living in need, it offers hope for the future of children like Mandy and relief for parents and grandparents like Darla when they have no where else to turn.