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Report: Childhood Hunger Persists in KY

A new national report shows nearly one in four Kentucky households with children isn't able to afford sufficient amounts of nutritious food. (Greg Stotelmyer)
A new national report shows nearly one in four Kentucky households with children isn't able to afford sufficient amounts of nutritious food. (Greg Stotelmyer)
September 21, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hunger in Kentucky remains well above the national average, according to a new report.

In the past two years, according to the Food Research and Action Center, nearly one in four Kentucky households with children has been unable to afford enough food.

Dare to Care Food Bank partners with more than 300 food pantries, emergency kitchens and shelters in the greater Louisville area. Its director of strategic initiatives, Stan Siegwald, said demand spiked when the recession hit in 2008 and has not gone down.

"If a family has children, they have greater expense pressure and one of those is food," he said. "That's why we have special programs designed to try to reach children."

Siegwald said the Kids Cafe program distributes meals in after-school settings, and Backpack Buddy provides food for the weekend to students facing hardships. Kentucky's food hardship rate for households with children was 23.7 percent, more than 4 percent above the national average of 19.2 percent. It was even higher in the Louisville metro area, at 24.4 percent.

Siegwald called it "disappointing" that the Louisville food hardship rate was, according to the report, 12th highest among the 100 largest urban areas. He said reasons run the gamut from parents in low-wage jobs to those facing health or substance-abuse problems. Siegwald said they have to keep looking for innovative ways to deliver food to those in need.

"I think having so many different variables in place make it a challenge to address many of the root causes," he said. "We work hard to make sure that help is accessible and available, and especially so for kids."

Dare to Care serves eight Kentucky and five Indiana counties, including the Louisville area, and provided 17 million meals in the past year.

Anti-hunger advocates across the nation are urging Congress to protect and expand federal nutrition programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC, a nutrition program for women, infants and children.

The report is online at frac.org.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY