Hopkins County Family YMCA is a leader in both the state and the across the country in addressing feeding issues, said retired CEO and consultant Ed Wallace.

During a Webinar Monday, Wallace and national YMCA leaders talked with YMCA directors from Kentucky and West Virginia about the importance of food programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the local YMCA served 8,700 meals across the county — 2,500 at the YMCA and 6,200 in partnership with the Hopkins County School System, said current CEO Chad Hart.

“They’re having drive up and feeding at the Y, and then they’re partnering with the schools,” said Wallace. “Getting the sack lunches from the schools and distributing them to eight off-sites across the county. They’re going about 120 miles round trip, and they’re serving quite a few children. They and the school district are serving about 3,000 meals a day.”

Outreach coordinator Michelle Hale said daily they feed close to 200 in an hour. When COVID-19 forced children to be out of school, the YMCA and the district wanted to make sure students’ nutritional needs were still met. When they started, Hale said the served 30 meals a day. Now, they are up to 320 a day at the YMCA location.

“We’re a small rural area, and we’re one of a few that has a really good relationship with our school system. We have our own kitchens, but we can’t serve every child in the county; that’s why we partner with the Hopkins County School system because they have more kitchens. But at the same time, the school system can’t get every child as well,” said Hart. “We partner well, and it’s not duplicated like this in a lot of other communities.”

Thirty years ago, Wallace and his leadership team started the Y’s food program, and Hart said Wallace continues to help other YMCAs or organizations around the country to make sure kids have food.

“A lot of times when you see a leader leave a program, like Ed Wallace retiring, you see a dip in the quality of a program or a dip in the quality of service, but I think that has been maintained,” said Hart. “Michelle has done a real good job of maintaining quality.”

Hale, who oversees the grab and go lunches at the YMCA has been intentional with her lunch menus, said Hart.

“Michelle, she does our ordering and the meal planning, and she’s been intentional about what she prepares for the kids,” he said. “She puts a lot of thought into it. Her heart is amazing, she loves this work just as much as anybody else, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Meals are available at the YMCA from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pull to the entrance of the child care facility and give the number of kids who need lunch.

Other opportunities to help feed the community.

• The Knights of Columbus are raising funds for Hopkins County food banks. If you’d like to donate to their efforts, go to Christ the King’s Website ctkmadisonville.org/give, then click the yellow “Give Here” button. It will take you to another site where you can specifically give to their food drive fund. Outside of Christ The King is a white truck where food donations can be dropped off throughout the day.

• Covenant Care said they are waiting for a compressor for their freezer, their shelves are full, and their church has kept a steady influx of food donations. However, they are accepting financial contributions. If you’d like to donate, checks can be sent to Covenant Community Church at 1055 North Main Street in Madisonville, or donate online at covenantcc.net/give. Their food bank is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Tuesday, except the first Tuesday of the month. They are located in the back of the church were they have a drive-up service.

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