|Kasey Blue “KB” Kessler, Emma Burton, and sisters Kennedy and Cadence Booth, inspect tomatoes at the D&D Longview Angus booth at the farmers' market. (Kentucky Living photo by Joe Imel)|
The farmers' market in Columbia has created a Hungry Kids' Cafe that expects to serve more than 2,500 meals on Saturdays this summer, Sharon Burton reports for Kentucky Living magazine, published by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.
"The vision of serving free breakfast and lunch to children came about three years ago when market coordinators noticed two little boys who frequented the market and sampled all the free food vendors made available," Burton reports. "They wondered if the boys had food on other days when the market wasn’t open."
“We have so many kids who really rely on school meals during the year,” says café coordinator Lois Cunningham told Burton. “We would see these kids who would walk around and they couldn’t buy anything.”
Burton reports, "Volunteers started out working with federal programs, but quickly learned they had their own ideas and began asking the local community to help fund the café. Now, the program relies completely on local donations." This year the café got its new name and "went from a mobile trailer to a permanent building in the corner of a city parking lot where the market is held," at the corner of Campbellsville and Merchant streets from 8 to 1 on Saturdays and 1 to 5 on Wednesdays.
The market participates in the federal nutrition programs for seniors, mothers and children, and offers "Kids Bucks," giving children $4 in coupons to buy fruits or vegetables. Market coordinator Donna Jones says the market is offering several social functions this year, including two days of “Meet the Candidates” in local elections.
Burton, editor and publisher of the Adair County Community Voice and The Farmer's Pride, the statewide agricultural newspaper, reports that the market "is as much an entertainment destination as it is a place to find fresh food. It’s been compared by some with markets in large metropolitan areas because of its variety and atmosphere. . . . The market is the center of social gatherings during the summer, even for young marketgoers."