Hunger in Kentucky is increasing as COVID-19 precautions have shut down most businesses, while senior citizens and others with underlying medical conditions are staying home.
Emergency distributions are helping to keep food on the table during this difficult time.
Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland has been assessing the 42 counties it serves. Executive Director Jamie Sizemore said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means families just do not have enough money to pay for housing, utilities and food.
“Our partner agencies are reporting everywhere from a 30-60 percent increase in food assistance," said Sizemore. "And one of the things, obviously, we’re seeing is a lot of people that are first-time users of food banks or food assistance programs.”
Sizemore said Warren County is among the many areas where there is a growing need for food assistance.
Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland had two emergency distributions in the county last week, with assistance from Warren County Parks and Recreation. One was in the northern part of the county at Ephram White Park, where food was distributed to 670 households. The other was in the southern part of the county in Buchanon Park, where 1,317 households received food.
"We knew going into this the need was pretty great in Warren County, and we're seeing that with the distributions," Sizemore said.
Some older adults who can't get to the distribution site are having family members or neighbors pick up the food for them. In addition, the United Way of Southern Kentucky is helping get food to seniors with emergency doorstep deliveries.
Emergency distribution is expected to continue through May and possibly into June, said Sizemore.
"What we're hearing and what Feeding America, our national office, is projecting is that it's going to take households six months to a year to recover not just from the COVID-19 crisis, but also from the financial crisis," said Sizemore. "It's going to take families and seniors some time to get back on their feet and meet all the needs of their households."
The emergency mobile food pantries are in addition to the regular Warren County food distribution at Lampkin Park on the last Wednesday of the month, where on April 29 food is expected to be distributed to about 1,000 households.