Food insecurity affects every single one of Kentucky’s 120 counties, but the Estill County Extension Office is attempting to reduce the meal gap in their own county by partnering with God’s Pantry as a summer meal site. The Extension Office not only serves free summer meals on site, but also travels to two other sites in Estill County to deliver meals to those living in more rural parts of town.
According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2015 report, 17.8% (about 2,590 people) of Estill County’s population is food insecure – click here to learn more about what this means, if you don’t already know. Children make up 28.1% of individuals in Estill County who lack proper access to nutritious foods.
“By offering lunches in three locations, we are hoping to reach and be able to feed more children,” said Amber Hargis, the Extension Office’s 4-H summer intern through the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and site supervisor for all three of Estill County’s summer meal sites. “Estill County has several outlying communities, so many children do not have the resources to get to one centralized location.”
As a rising senior Agriculture Economics major at the University of Kentucky, Hargis has taken on summer feeding as her individual summer project, focusing on educating youth about where their food comes from through farm-to-table activities.
During Estill County’s summer meal services, the children are served their food first while their parents and guardians accompany Jessica Webb, the Extension Office’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) assistant, to a separate space for nutrition education programming. When the children are finished eating, Hargis leads them in activities like learning about the different food groups, making their own butter, and learning about growing fruits and vegetables.
“I really enjoy working with the kids,” said Hargis. “Providing programming after the meals gives me a chance to talk to the kids a little more and get to know about them.”
Outside of the Extension Office, Hargis enjoys spending time outdoors and being with her friends and family, who raise beef cattle on their family farm. She also enjoys her work inside the Extension Office, where she gets to make a direct impact on the Estill County community.
“We work directly with our citizens,” said Hargis, “and that makes a huge difference. We are one of the largest resources available to them and I love being able to see how we have made an impact.
The Estill County Extension Office will serve lunch every Tuesday from 11:00-12:00 p.m. until July 26. They also operate two other sites: St. Timothy Outreach, which will serve lunch every Tuesday from 1:00-2:00 p.m. until July 26, and Mt. Carmel Christian Church, which will serve lunch every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00 p.m. until July 27. Find them on our summer meals map!
In the pictures above, children at St. Timothy Outreach plant their own “glove gardens” and learn about growing their own food.