CORBIN--The Summer Feeding Program in Corbin started earlier than ever before with the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, creating both challenges and blessings for directors and volunteers within the program.

Officially beginning on March 16 when students were released for COVID-19, the program has looked different this year. There's no summer feeding sites at pools or libraries with children gathering to eat and play in the sunshine. But Corbin Food Service Director Janie Keith said while it has been very stressful at times, the program has been blessed with volunteers and members of administration doing their best to make it all work. And Keith said that's exactly what has made the program successful.

The program is continuing to offer home delivery as well as two pickup sites at the Corbin Elementary School and Restoration Ministries, serving over 650 meals a day.

Keith said some of the food service staff is back as well as some much needed help from local colleges.

"It's so rewarding," said Keith who has been working in this program for many years now. "It's a much needed thing for the students in the community. It's been on all of our hearts to continue to do it."

When the pandemic first hit, making sure students would be fed each day was top priority for Keith and many others. Instantly volunteers went to work and providing daily lunch for students was one of the only things across the board that remained a constant.

Keith said at first she was left to face the problem alone as workers were sent home for safety precautions, but that didn't last long as volunteers started pouring in with calls demanding to know what she needed and what they could do to help.

"There was never a second where people weren't standing, asking for something to do," added Keith. "It's an amazing time to be a part of this district -- they've been so supportive, so helpful."

Keith said although food service staff and summer feeding volunteers aren't able to go deliver food to the usual summer locations to feed in groups it has been a blessing to see students leaving them notes in the windows as well as watching them wave to them from their doorways.

"They are so happy to see familiar," said Keith. "It's a blessing. You can't even imagine how much it does for your heart."

Keith is also encouraging parents and guardians to sign up for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which is a financial resource for families with students who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to COVID-19. P-EBT provides households with an EBT card funds to spend on food at home for students.

But Keith reminds guardians that it's not just for those who already have an EBT card. This program is available to all students who had access to free or reduced-price lunch at a public school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.

The original deadline to apply for the funds was June 30 but has been extended to July 10.

"It's not based on income," added Keith. "If you are not already receiving SNAP or Medicaid benefits all you have to do is sign up online."

Keith said the process if quick. She applied and already received her benefits.

P-EBT provides a benefits card families can use to replace school meals while schools are closed. P-EBT benefits are based on the current National School Lunch Program(NSLP) and School Breakfast Program reimbursement rates. The maximum rates provided in Kentucky will be used including the severe need breakfast and lunch rates. Weekends are not included.

Rates per student:

Daily Rate - $5.70

March Total - $68.40

April Total - $125.40

May Total - $119.70

P-EBT Total - $313.50

In most cases, those with more than one child eligible for free or reduced lunch will be issued only one card with the total benefits for all children. Benefits can be issued only per student in total and only to one household. Two students in split households may allow for one student to apply at each household address separately. All decisions for split households must be made before applying. If multiple households apply for the same student, the first approved application will receive the funds and all additional applications will be denied.

For questions email the P-EBT Information Hub, please do not call your local DCBS office or school as they will not be able to assist you.

According to Keith the summer feeding program will continue until school starts back. She extends a special thank you to all the volunteers and churches who continue to answer the needs of the program even before they are called on.

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