Childhood hunger is a silent epidemic that affects nearly 1 in 6 children nationwide. Here in Owsley County, where 54.4 percent of children live in poverty, Friday afternoon begins the 87-hour period when the school meal programs are not available, leaving the poorest school-age children with little or nothing to eat.
These children come back to school on Mondays, famished and weak, thinking only of the free meal that will come at breakfast and/or lunchtime.
The Food Backpack Program sends these children home each weekend with a backpack filled with seven easily prepared meals along with two to three snacks. The children we serve have been identified by teachers and school Resource Center personnel as having little or no food from Friday’s school lunch until Monday’s 7:30 a.m. breakfast.
Domestic Violence Involvement: O.C.O.P. participates in monthly Domestic Violence Council meetings. We assist with clothing, household items and food, when needed. Our long-term intention is to provide a safe house for these victims. When realized, this home will be called the Ruth House (with ‘Ruth’ symbolizing a ‘friend when in a time of need’).
The Senior Care Program: The Senior Care Program provides food and clothing to low-income seniors. Many Owsley County seniors are forced to choose between medicine, food or utilities, and it is our goal to ensure than none go hungry. We also provide medical transportation, when possible. An overwhelming proportion of our senior population are also primary caregivers to grandchildren and are in need of additional food and/or clothing.
Drug Rehab: At present, we provide a support system to women who have served time in prison and/or are returning from drug rehabilitation clinics. We work with these women in the Thrift Store, focusing on job training while providing a solid presence to stand with them while they are trying to rebuild a life in a county where drugs are available on every corner.
Families In Need: When a family sufferers home loss due to fire, domestic violence or any other means, we assist with furniture, household items, clothing and other necessities.
Clothing Program: O.C.O.P. supplies an array of clothing needs, including: children who are in need of clothing for school; families needing appropriate clothing funeral services or the burial of loved ones, and; senior citizens in need. We also provide winter coats, blankets and quilts to those in need. As with all of our programs, we do our utmost to support our clients in a way that preserves dignity and pride. To that end, we provide needy families with vouchers so that they may shop our Thrift Store themselves, purchasing what they like.
Food Programs: At present, we are serving children 8,330 food bags during the school year and 621 food bags during the six weeks of summer (serving some of the children twice a week). In addition, we serve 180 seniors food boxes once a month (or twice a month if we receive bread and fresh produce), and 520 shut-ins per year. We also provide emergency food boxes at a current rate of 200+ times per year.
Christmas Program: With the help of churches, families and friends, we are normally able to give each child and senior a Christmas gift. As well, we provide 40 Christmas food boxes for senior shut-ins.
Owsley County Outreach operates a thrift store that provides clothing and household items at low or no cost. Churches, organization and individuals donate these items, and revenue from the thrift store is used to help support the food programs. At this time, the Thrift store underwrites 40 percent of our food costs.
If you would like to be a volunteer, please contact us at 606-593-8292. If coming from out of the area and need a place to stay, please contact Wallace & Pauline Montgomery at 606-464-8425 or606-560-0563.
Owsley County Outreach depends on the small grants we receive and money and food donations from caring people like you. Please, make a donation today.
If you feel the call to provide help for these children and seniors, please give us a call or write a card or letter.