The job losses and months of virtual learning when children didn’t get school meals during the pandemic created a hunger crisis for many Kentucky families.
Now, the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the Bluegrass State and the decline in cases of the virus has eased the hunger crisis as some parts of life become closer to normal.
Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland is continuing its regular food distribution to about 1,000 households at Lampkin Park in Warren County once a month.
But with many children returning to in-person learning at school, and getting some of their meals there, Feeding America has combined two emergency distributions in Warren County into one monthly location.
Executive Director Jamie Sizemore said that in April the food bank served 432 households at Ephram White Park, and 372 households at Buchanan Park.
“So those continued to drop, in both of those, especially Buchanan. So what we decided to do was ask all the people from Buchanan Park to go to Ephram White,” said Sizemore. “So those two together we are going to be serving about 800 plus households.”
Sizemore said as the crisis phase of the pandemic and the resulting food insecurity wanes, Feeding America Kentuky's Heartlabd is in the recovery phase.
The Elizabethtown-based food bank serves 42 counties in central, south-central, and western Kentucky, through regular and emergency distributions, local food pantries and community programs. The food bank works with 225 partner agencies.
“Families with school age children are still the group that have been the highest factor as far as visiting food pantries during this pandemic. And so we’re still seeing some of that. They’re not out of it yet,” said Sizemore. “But things have gotten a little bit calmer now that the stimulus check, the third one went out, kids for the most part are back in school.”
Sizemore said while the need for emergency food has decreased a bit for now, it generally increases again in the summer when children are out of school.
More than half of the people served by Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland must choose between paying for utilities and buying food.