Our View: September about fighting hunger

Published 11:47 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

For more than a decade, September has been set aside as a time to focus on the severity of hunger in our country.

Hunger Action Month is designed to inspire people to take action and raise awareness of the fact 40 million Americans, including 12.5 million children, are food insecure, according to the USDA.

According to Feeding Kentucky, “Kentucky has the seventh highest rate in the nation of people struggling to put food on the table. In Kentucky, 662,000 people struggle with hunger and may not know where they will find their next meal. That number includes one in every five kids who may not have enough to eat.”

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Here are some other facts about hunger you may not know:

— Food insecurity is a condition assessed in the Community Population Survey and represented in USDA food security reports. It is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

— Kentucky’s overall food-insecurity rate is 15 percent, higher than the national rate of 13 percent for the overall population.

— Food insecurity exists in every county in Kentucky. Overall food insecurity in Kentucky ranges from a low of 7.6 percent of the population in Oldham County up to 22 percent in Magoffin County. In Clark County, the food insecurity rate was 13.5 percent in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

— Children are more likely to face food insecurity than any other group in the United States.

— Child food insecurity exists in every county in Kentucky. Kentucky’s child food-insecurity rate is 18 percent, higher than the national rate of 17 percent. Child food insecurity in Kentucky ranges from a low of 11.7 percent in Oldham County up to 31.5 percent in Magoffin County.

— Kentucky has the highest rate in the nation of food insecurity among adults age 50-59. Nationally, the food insecurity rate among adults age 50-59 is 11.3 percent while in Kentucky the rate is 18.6 percent.

— Kentucky’s 8.4 percent food insecurity rate for seniors age 60 or older is also higher than the national average of 7.7 percent.

— Seniors who live with grandchildren are more likely to be food insecure than seniors who do not.

According to a press release from Feeding Kentucky, Hunger Action Day, the second Thursday in September, is a day where efforts across the country are focused for greater impact. On Sept. 12, Feeding Kentucky is seeking 700 actions from the public — a donation, a volunteer shift, a social media post — that will help end hunger. To learn more about Feeding Kentucky and other ways you can get involved for Hunger Action Month in Kentucky, visit FeedingKY.org or HungerActionMonth.org.

There are numerous ways you can help in the fight to end food insecurity.

You can donate food to local food banks or money to those organizations so they can purchase food to stock the shelves. Donations can be one-time or regular, whatever you are able and willing to contribute to the cause. The food pantry contact in Clark County is Debbie Fatkin at Clark County Community Services. She can be reached at 744-5034 or by email at debbiefatkin@cccs1975.org. Community Services operates a God’s Pantry Food Bank, which serves more than 1,300 families each month in Clark County. CCCS offers monthly senior commodity boxes as well as assistance for low-income families.

If you can’t donate food or money, donate your time. Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofits, especially food banks where they are needed to help sort, check and distribute food to people in need. There are many volunteer opportunities at Clark County Community Services for people of all ages and abilities.

Locally, you can shop at C.C.’s Closet, a consignment shop run by CCCS. All proceeds from the shop go to support the services offered at CCCS.

Share with others about the prevalence of hunger in the state. Tell lawmakers and community representative to protect programs that feed hungry Kentuckians, especially children, like the SNAP program. According to Feeding Kentucky, “SNAP reaches 308,642 households with 650,825 individuals in an average month. Of these households, 68% are families with children. In rural Kentucky, SNAP is a lifeline. On average, 25% of Kentucky’s rural population is supported by SNAP.”

There are many ways to become involved in the fight against hunger. Whether it be through financial assistance, dedicated volunteers or passionate advocates, it’s something worth fighting for.

It’s a sad reality that many of our neighbors are experiencing hunger when that does not have to be the case. If we can help our neighbors, we should.