hunger

Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource

A new study shows the Ohio Valley has some of the nation’s highest rates of food insecurity among older adults, and anti-hunger advocates say that situation could be made worse by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual study was published May 21 in partnership with researchers from the University of Kentucky, researchers from University of Illinois, and the nonprofit food bank organization Feeding America. The researchers used Census Bureau survey data from 2018 which asked households with adults aged 50-59 a series of questions to determine whether they were food insecure.

Facebook/ Hardin County Schools

The Hardin County Schools summer feeding program begins Tuesday, May 26.

Meals will be given out at three schools and mobile distribution will be at stops in neighborhoods across the county.

“This year our fixed sites are three high schools, Central Hardin High School, John Hardin High School and North Hardin High School," said district spokesman John Wright. Lunch will be available at those sites every weekday from 11 a.m  to 1 p.m.

The meals are free to anyone 18 or younger.

Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland

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.”


USDA

Kentucky and West Virginia have recently been added to a federal pilot program to allow food stamp recipients to purchase groceries online, and Ohio Valley anti-hunger advocates say it’s a good move to improve food accessibility amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The pilot program lets those receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to make grocery purchases online. The program began in New York in April, 2019, but many states including Kentucky and West Virginia have just recently joined the program to let SNAP recipients buy food with less face-to-face interaction. 

 


Rhonda J. Miller

As residents of Kentucky and the rest of the nation are advised to stay home as much as possible to avoid the spread of coronavirus, the Bowling Green Housing Authority's "Mobile Grocery" is making that easier, especially for low-income, homebound and elderly residents.

The bus offers food, household items, and a sense of community.

The cheerful white bus painted with pictures of apples, eggs and milk recently rolled to a stop in front of a Warren County mobile home with an American flag.

Nancy Hendricks, 80, is waiting in her driveway with her green cloth bag with the Mobile Grocery logo. Bus driver Danny Carothers fills her shopping list.

“So I’ve got your crackers, your two paper towels, your water and your two percent milk,” said Carothers, as he totals her bill for today: $6.65. 


Rhonda J. Miller

A health care organization in Henderson, Kentucky is reviving a tradition likely to make many people feel better, not just in theory, but in actual medical terms.

Methodist Health has a nurse practitioner who makes house calls to treat patients in rural communities. 

Dogs don’t usually announce the start of a medical appointment, but barking dogs on the front porch are a typical greeting for Nurse Practitioner Crystal Buchanan when she makes a house call to see Susan Turner in the Henderson County community of Cairo. 

"Susan, how are ya?” Buchanan asks as she opens the front door. 


G.J. Strang/University of Kentucky

Kentucky’s Farms to Food Banks program increased the types of produce purchased from farmers in 2019.

It also began a new project to freeze some items that were sent along to food banks.

Farms to Food Banks buys what’s sometimes called “ugly produce.” It’s healthy, but not perfect enough in appearance to be sold to grocery stores.

The program pays farmers enough to cover the cost of labor, packaging and transportation, and keeps the imperfect produce from going to waste.

Sarah Vaughn, programs coordinator for Feeding Kentucky, said the program bought 22 types of produce in 2018, with that figure increasing to 28 varieties in 2019.


Feeding Kentucky

A new report shows the 2019 Summer Food Service Program served 3.2 million meals to Kentucky children. Those meals were served at schools, in buses converted to mobile cafés, and sometimes at tables set up in someone’s yard.

The 2019 KY Kids Eat Summer Success Report by Feeding Kentucky shows summer meals for children increased by 10 percent over the previous season. 

That expansion of meals served to children has been a trend, with double-digit increases every year during the past five years. 

One reason for the increase is an expansion of mobile feeding programs that bring meals to children in rural areas. 


Teresa's Restaurant/facebook

Two Bowling Green restaurants are opening their doors on Thursday to offer free Thanksgiving meals. 

The message from Teresa’s Restaurant and Lisa’s 5th Street Diner is that “giving” is the heart of Thanksgiving. The two Bowling Green eateries are expecting to serve a combined total of close to 1,000 free meals on Thursday.

Heather McGuffey, owner of Teresa’s Restaurant on Gordon Avenue, said the restaurant served 400 free Thanksgiving meals last year, and they’re thinking bigger this year.

McGuffey said her family and the restaurant crew are preparing enough food for 500 people, and the guest list is "everyone who walks through the door." 


Kentucky Dept. for Aging and Independent Living

Kentucky will hold its first ‘Senior Hunger Summit’ on Oct. 30, in Frankfort. State and local leaders say it’s time to confront hunger and related health issues facing older residents.

Kentucky ranks 50th in the nation in preventable hospitalizations, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2019 Senior Report.

Shannon Gadd, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living, said access to nutritious food on a regular basis is key in preventing hospitalizations and addressing other health problems facing seniors.

“I think people just are unaware of the issues: fixed incomes, higher cost of food, higher cost of medicine, lack of transportation," said Gadd. "One of the things we want to hammer home with the hunger summit is that we have a problem, but also we have solutions.”

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

A new report says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) improves health and reduces costs across Kentucky.

The report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows more than 500,000 Kentuckians get help buying groceries through SNAP.

Kentucky has the eighth-highest rate of food insecurity in the nation. KCEP says a growing body of research connects food insecurity to a higher rate of diabetes, chronic illnesses, and other negative health outcomes. 


Green River Area Development District

Nearly 100 volunteers will fan out across the Green River area of Kentucky on Oct. 22 to deliver bags of groceries to more than 500 low-income seniors.

The program is called ‘Feed Seniors Now’ and it’s coordinated by the Green River Area Development District, or GRADD.

This is the eighth year of the project. Volunteers pack and deliver bags with canned fruits and vegetables, breakfast items, pasta, tuna, peanut butter and other nonperishable items.

On delivery morning volunteers add a quarter-size ham and hot dogs donated by Kentucky Legend. 

Jennifer Williams is associate director for aging and social services for GRADD. She said last year the program delivered food to 504 seniors, and this year that number is up to 545.


Feeding America has determined that too many people in Barren County, Kentucky are food insecure. A new montly mass distribution is being launched get more food to residents in the Glasgow and Cave City areas.

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland, which is based in Elizabethtown, already distributes more than 12 million meals each year through food pantries, soup kitchens, and programs for children and seniors in 42 counties.

Even so, not enough food is getting into Barren County. The recent “Map the Meal Gap” report from Feeding America shows that 6,700 adults and 2,100 children in the county do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. 


USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week a proposal to tighten the rules on who qualifies for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA estimates more than three million people across the country would lose SNAP benefits in an effort to prevent fraud. Anti-hunger advocates in the Ohio Valley say the more than two million people in the region who use the benefits would be impacted.

The department wants to change what they call “broad-based categorical eligibility” in the SNAP program. The regulation allows people that don’t have a low enough income to qualify for food stamps to get them in other ways. For example, people can also qualify if they receive assistance from other federal programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families


Rhonda J. Miller

When school is out in summer, hunger in economically-stressed communities can increase. That’s because students are no longer going to the school cafeteria for the free lunch, and often free breakfast, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ohio County is one of the Kentucky school districts where buses take free meals to children in the rural communities where they live. WKU Public Radio's Rhonda Miller recently tagged along to see first-hand how the mobile summer program is impacting local youth and their families. 


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