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Feed-A-Kid continues through pandemic

Local produce and meals being dropped off at elementary schools

 

COLUMBUS—This summer has been a little different with the local Feed A Kid program but has included more fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers.

Local churches and the Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry partner in the summer to feed families through summer vacation. This year has included drop off points at elementary schools instead of deliveries and packing with volunteers wearing masks.

There are 6 local churches who partner to fund the program and Outreach provides resources, including food purchases and the facilities to pack the food.

The program began in 2012 by the Congregational Church of Tryon, when the church wanted to fill the gap in the summer when kids were no longer getting food bags sent home on the weekends during the school year. This year, Polk County Schools provided food to students until June 23, with most of the time between the time school stopped on March 13 food distributed Monday through Friday.

The Feed A Kid program has grown over the years, with the churches of First Baptist Tryon, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross, the Church of the Transfiguration of Saluda, Tryon United Methodist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship joining the Congregational Church.

In years past, the program has packed and delivered food directly to children’s homes, with normally having 8-9 routes throughout the county. The program generally runs for 10 weeks throughout the summer.

This year was different because of the COVID-19 and the program adapted to ensure families were fed throughout the summer. Volunteers have been packing food and boxes of produce on Wednesdays at Outreach and are delivering to all 4 elementary schools. This summer’s program is running for 6 weeks instead of the normal 10 because of the pandemic.

This summer has seen 48 families participating, including 122 children. Last year the program served more, with 65 families.

This year is also different in that it is focusing more on families with larger boxes of produce in addition to bags of regular food.

The program has partnered with several local farmers to provide melons, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and peaches each week.

Volunteers with the Congregational Church picked 220 lbs. of blueberries earlier this summer, with each family receiving 3 lbs. each. The church also provided used books for all of the children last week.

Feed A Kid is funded through the churches involved with each church doing an individual appeal to members or a fundraiser for the program. All 6 churches pay for the entire program, with the fundraising normally raising at least $10,000.