Salvation Army Owensboro

As Kentucky continues to recover from the job losses and the unpredictability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of America’s iconic social service organizations is finding many families in the Owensboro region struggling to make ends meet.  

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Lt. Judah Irvin, commanding officer of the Salvation Army in Owensboro, which serves Daviess, Hancock, McLean and Ohio counties. 

Lt. Irvin said the organization is seeing an increasing need among adults and children for that most basic of necessities: food. 

Katie Myers | Ohio Valley ReSource

Some residents in Ohio Valley communities are still struggling to keep their heads above water over a year into the pandemic. A main cause of concern: housing.

The federal eviction moratorium ended in late August after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration efforts  to extend the moratorium into October. While it lasted, the moratorium preventing eviction for non-payment of rent was the last saving grace for many families. With that protection no longer available, the housing crisis in the region has only gotten more severe. 

Alana Watson of WKU Public Radio sat down with Ohio Valley ReSource reporters Katie Myers and Liam Niemeyer to break down their most recent report on the issue.

Katie Myers

Jimmy McRoberts knew the North Fork Mobile Home Park was teeming with animals. Some residents, like local grandmother Penny Gozzard, had two or three beloved cats they kept a close eye on; others let their pets roam around and mingle with the neighborhood kids who played around their families’ trailers. So when McRoberts’ entire trailer park was served an eviction notice on March 7, he realized a lot of pets were about to be left behind.

It was a gentle, breezy May evening in the small eastern Kentucky college town of Morehead, Kentucky, when McRoberts told his story outside one of the last trailers in North Fork. By this time, the park was mostly vacated, the high grasses covering left-behind odds and ends, toys and jackets and cigarette packs. Roughly 80 of McRoberts’ neighbors, served with the same eviction notice and a move-out date of April 30, were gone.



Margaret O'Donnell

Kentuckians pushing to lift people out of poverty and guarantee access to voting took part in a car caravan in Frankfort on Monday.

The Poor People’s Campaign organized car caravans in more than 25 states, including Kentucky, in an ongoing series of nationwide demonstrations the group calls "Moral Mondays." 

Kentucky supporters of the Poor People’s Campaign made their voices heard by driving in a "pandemic safe" caravan around the state capitol.

The caravan was followed by an outdoor news conference and two members of the group - wearing masks - going into the building to deliver printed copies of 14 demands to state legislators. Those demands are related to social justice and ending poverty. 

Adam Schultz

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cripple the economy in the Ohio Valley and President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pursuing his plan for economic recovery.

Biden’s economic priorities include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, forgiving student loan debt, and undoing some Trump-era tax cuts. But Biden’s immediate focus is on his “American Rescue Plan” for economic recovery and ending the pandemic. Last month Biden laid out his two-step plan for rescue and recovery. 

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight,” Biden said while giving an address about the plan. “We have to act, and we have to act now.”Regional economists have weighed in on what the Ohio Valley needs and many are in agreement that the region is in need of financial aid, job creation and security, and a national plan to end the pandemic.

Devine Carama

This fall, Lexington, Kentucky, activist and artist Devine Carama launched a different kind of road trip across his home state. He visited a dozen cities and towns, from Pikeville, in the state’s Appalachian east, to Paducah, near where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi. He carried a sign that said “I’ll walk 400 miles if you promise to vote.”

He wants to bring attention to what he says is the most important election of our lifetimes and to open up conversations about why people do or don’t vote. 


“That was another kind of, you know, motivational piece to this,” he said. “How can we inspire people to not just register, but actually go out and vote?”




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. 


Elizabethtown Police Department

It’s an increasingly familiar sight at busy intersections and shopping center entryways. A person or persons positioned on the side of the road often displaying a handmade sign asking for money or food. 

Begging for money or goods in a public space is legal in Kentucky. A 2017 state Supreme Court ruling declared that panhandling is free speech protected by the First Amendment. With enforcement powers stripped, authorities are left to manage the public safety hazard created by panhandlers and well-meaning citizens.

While panhandling is not against the law in Kentucky, panhandlers and well-intentioned citizens can pose a public safety hazard in the state’s roadways.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report finds the Ohio Valley has some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. The study comes from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, an initiative to eliminate or alleviate poverty through action-based research. 

The “Index of Deep Disadvantage” combines measures of income, health outcomes, and social mobility, or the factors affecting someone’s ability to improve their lot in life.

Two Ohio cities, Cleveland and Dayton, are on the list of the 100 most deeply disadvantaged communities. Other Ohio Valley communities on the list are rural counties: McCreary, Bell, Clay, Wolfe, Breathitt, Harlan, Lee, and Owsley Counties in Kentucky, and McDowell County in West Virginia. The majority of these communities are located in Appalachia.

Unsplash / Jon Tyson

Groups across Kentucky are preparing to participate in the nationwide count of the homeless that takes place at the end of January. In advance of the count, several training sessions are being offered during the week of Jan. 6 to 10.

The Kentucky Housing Corporation coordinates the state’s count of the homeless, called K-Count, that will be held this year on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

It’s part of the nationwide count of the homeless managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tori Henninger is executive director of Barren River Area Safe Space, or BRASS, which provides services for victims of domestic violence in a 10-county region in southern Kentucky.  

Henninger says many individuals, especially women, become homeless as a result of domestic violence, so BRASS is one of several organizations offering training to people who want to take part in the K-Count.


A lawmaker from Hardin County is hoping Kentucky follows the example of Tennessee and other states that don’t impose an income tax on its residents.

Supporters say transitioning away from an income tax and increasing the state’s sales tax would make Kentucky more attractive to businesses.

Opponents say it would be a boon to the wealthy, while hurting low-income and vulnerable residents.

The effort to move Kentucky away from relying on income tax gained steam in 2018. That’s when Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed into law a massive overhaul of the state’s tax code.

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. 

Flickr Creative Commons Mickangel

A new report ranks Kentucky in the top 20 for states with the most underprivileged children.

The commonwealth has the highest percentage of maltreated children, with Indiana ranked second in that category. 


Overall, the Hoosier state is ranked ninth for states with the most underprivileged children, and Tennessee is 20th. 


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

Becca Schimmel

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the current $7.25 rate, which has not changed in a decade. The bill is unlikely to clear the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he will not take it up.

But the vote adds energy to election-season debate about a living wage, an issue that resonates with tens of thousands in the Ohio Valley, where low-wage jobs have been taking the place of higher-earning ones lost to declines in the mining and manufacturing sectors.