Russell Carrington and Brooklyn Morris pack food boxes for delivery.
With assistance from the Owen County School District, the UMC Food Ministry will see that hundreds of local children continue to receive free meals this summer.
The school district began its weekly food deliveries in mid-March after Gov. Andy Beshear recommended all public and private K-12 schools close due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The district continued its distribution each week through May 26, turning the process over to UMC Food Ministry June 1, which partners with non-profit agencies in Kentucky and Ohio to provide meals to children and youth.
Since 2016, the ministry — based out of Latonia, Ky. — has overseen the local summer feeding program. Additionally, UMC Food Ministry also provides after-school meals for students in tutoring or enrichment programs.
To better serve the community amid the ongoing pandemic, the ministry sought consent forms, bus routes, and contacts from the school district to continue providing local children with food throughout the summer, according to Owen County Schools Food Service Director Amy Chappell.
The exhibit hall at the Owen County Fairgrounds will serve as the ministry's production site, with local school cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and students working to assist throughout the summer.
Deliveries will take place Monday-Thursday each week, according to Teresa Risch, the ministry's local kitchen manager.
"The schools have about 28 buses and were able to complete delivery in one day," Risch explained. "We've only got two refrigerated trucks, so they will go out on their route, come back and reload. We're going to try to cover three or four routes in one day."
Each delivery will consist of a box packed with enough breakfast and lunch items to last seven days. Those participating will also receive a half-gallon of white milk and a half-gallon of chocolate milk.
In addition to feeding the county's students, children who have not yet entered the school system may also receive the ministry's assistance.
"We feed anybody 18 and under," Risch added. "They don't have to be in school to get this, just under the age of 18."
The ministry has used its own mapping software to develop delivery routes. Those students who were car-riders during the 2019-2020 school year and those who have not yet entered the school system may stop by the fairgrounds, 355 Ellis Road, Owenton, from 10 a.m.-noon, Monday-Friday, to pick up their food.
"It's obvious the deliveries need to continue to reach the remote areas," Chappell said. "Most districts have a summer feeding site, and hundreds of kids can walk to it. We don't have that here. Kids that need it are in remote areas."
Parents of students or children that would like to receive food through the UMC Food Ministry may contact the ministry's central office at 859-261-4010.
"We want to make sure that kids are fed and have something to eat while they're at home," said UMC Food Ministry CEO Larry Karow. "We welcome phone calls to add to our lists."