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Report: No Kentucky County Untouched by Hunger

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - No part of the Bluegrass State is untouched by hunger, new research shows.

According to the "Map the Meal Gap 2018" report, not only does food insecurity exist in every Kentucky county, 30 percent of residents who don't have enough food likely don't qualify for federal nutrition assistance. Rates range from 8 percent in Oldham County to 24 percent in Magoffin County, where the Water into Wine Food Pantry is located. Valarie Inzer, the food pantry's director of distribution, said she isn't surprised because she sees the faces of hunger each day.

"It's real, it's here and it's not just one or two people or organizations that need to address it," she said. "We all just need to humble ourselves and think, we could be in that situation - and if we was, what would we like for other people to do to help us?"

The report found that 19 percent of Kentucky kids are food insecure, but it's one in three children in Clay, Elliott, Knott, Magoffin and Wolfe counties. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Inzer said many food-pantry clients are employed but face challenges that make it difficult to put food on the table.

"Everybody's circumstances are different," she said. "They're not eligible for any other public assistance, yet they hardly make enough, or what extra money they do have goes to insurance because of a medical or health issue."

Water into Wine Food Pantry is part of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, whose members distributed 63 million meals last year across the state. Inzer said hungry families need more, as assistance from food pantries and soup kitchens can only go so far.

"This is only a supplemental assistance," she said. "What we give out is not made for people to live on month to month or week to week, but to supplement what they can already supply for themselves."

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves a dozen meals for every one meal provided by Feeding America, which also partners with the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. Congress is considering further restricting SNAP eligibility as it debates the 2018 Farm Bill.

The report is online at map.feedingamerica.org.


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