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A Holiday Gift Idea: Helping the Hungry

During this holiday season, those who fight hunger in Kentucky say the perfect gift is making a donation to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. (Greg Stotelmyer)
During this holiday season, those who fight hunger in Kentucky say the perfect gift is making a donation to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. (Greg Stotelmyer)
December 19, 2016

BEREA, Ky. — Kentucky has one of the highest food-insecurity rates in the nation, and those who help feed the hungry say a wonderful gift this holiday would be a donation to your local food pantry.

The season of giving is the perfect time to help fellow Kentuckians who struggle to put food on their table, said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. She said there are several ways to help end hunger in the Bluegrass State.

"By donating food or funds to your local food pantry, offering to volunteer to help stack the shelves and repackage donated food, or just spreading the word and letting people know that hunger is a problem in Kentucky but it's a problem with a solution," Sandberg said.

Financial donations have the biggest impact, she said, because the state's seven regional food banks can then use their purchasing power to get more bang for the buck.

To give, go online to KAFB.org, then click on "donate now." You can even designate which local food pantry receives the funds.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 700,000 Kentuckians at risk of hunger - the fifth highest food-insecurity rate in the nation.

Sandberg said when you look at your Christmas tree, think for a moment about the electricity that keeps the lights twinkling.

“Sixty-seven percent of households served by food banks in Kentucky have to choose between paying utilities or paying for food in the past year,” she said. "So, these are families that are making agonizing choices that nobody should ever have to face."

When you watch kids open their presents, ponder this fact - the food banks, in partnership with 800 charitable food pantries, help feed more than 600,000 people, including 170,000 children.

Food insecurity is highest among kids, Sandberg said, and it's especially tough when they're not in school.

"Families tell us that the holidays, which are supposed to be such a joyful time, can be some of the most stressful times for the families that we serve because they don't have that support from the school meals program to help make sure their kids have healthy food,” she said.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY