With the holiday season upon us, many of us are reflecting on how we can share our blessings with our less fortunate neighbors. Hunger in Kentucky isn’t seasonal—it’s a year-round issue. There are 700,000 people, including more than 200,000 children, in our state who struggle with hunger.
When you set the table for your holiday celebration this season, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks wants you to know FIVE things about hunger in Kentucky:
1. While many are spending the extra money for a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, 91 percent of food bank client households in Kentucky report purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they knew it wasn’t the healthiest option, in an effort to provide enough food for their household.
2. When you string up your holiday lights, remember that 67 percent of the households we serve report choosing between paying for utilities and paying for food in the past year, with 32 percent reporting making this choice every month.
3. Hunger affects people of all ages. Our members provide food assistance to more than 600,000 people annually, including 170,000 children and 120,000 seniors.
4. While the holidays mean no school days for kids, it can also mean empty stomachs for many. Nearly all Kentucky’s food bank client households with school-aged children (94 percent) receive free or reduced-price school lunch through the National School Lunch Program.
5. Families facing hunger are at risk for a multitude of health problems, including nutrition-related diseases. For instance, 65 percent of our client households have at least one member who suffers from high blood pressure. Also, 41 percent of households have someone who struggles with diabetes.
A little can go a long way, and a simple gesture can help provide struggling families with much-needed food and an extra reason to be thankful. Each $1 donation to the Kentucky Association of Food Banks helps provide fresh Kentucky-grown fruits and vegetables for 7 meals to people in need through our Farms to Food Banks program.
During this season of giving thanks, we’d like to share how grateful we are for the state appropriation from the Kentucky General Assembly for the Farms to Food Banks program. To date the $1.2 million in the current state budget, combined with support from private funders such as Farm Credit Mid-America and the Lift a Life Foundation, has allowed us to distribute over 5 million pounds of Kentucky-grown fruits and vegetables to struggling Kentuckians in all 120 counties. Over 400 Kentucky farmers have benefitted from a new market for their Number 2-grade produce.
The program is an example of an effective public-private partnership with measurable impact, and we are thrilled to have strong support from both sides of the aisle in Frankfort. Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Stumbo, House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McKee, and House Education Chairman Derrick Graham all played a key role in seeing the funding included in the current state budget.
Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit kyfoodbanks.org to find out how to help this holiday season and throughout the year.
The Kentucky Association of Food Banks is Kentucky’s largest charitable response to hunger, representing Kentucky’s 7 regional Feeding America food banks (Dare to Care Food Bank; Facing Hunger Foodbank; Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland; Freestore Foodbank; God’s Pantry Food Bank; Purchase Area Development District; and Tri-State Food Bank) and over 800 member charities including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Last year its members distributed the equivalent of 52 million meals to 1 in 7 Kentuckians across the commonwealth.