Battling food hardship: Many Kentucky families can’t buy enough food

Published 12:13 pm Friday, August 17, 2018

It’s a staggering number. Eye-opening in fact.

In Kentucky, 17 percent of households report they can’t buy enough food for their families.

That’s more than one in six families, and when it comes to households with children, that rate increases to nearly one in five. Those rates rank Kentucky as 12th worst state for hunger, according to a new study released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger advocacy group.

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There are a number of factors that attribute to families struggling to afford food in Kentucky, such as the unemployment rate and stagnant wages.

Another factor is only one in 12 children who receive a free lunch at school have access to a summer meal.

While Kentucky’s rate of families didn’t change much from previous years, there’s still plenty to be concerned about.

Eight Kentucky counties reported 30 percent of households with children couldn’t afford enough food.

Also, many food banks and charities haven seen their numbers go up, but the percentage of households reporting not having enough food stays the same over the years.

“It’s really concerning for us that even though all our food banks are feeding more people . our top nutrition organizations are reaching out to more households, we’re still seeing the same number of families needing food,” said Kate McDonald, KY Kids Eat coordinator at the Kentucky Association of Food Banks in Berea.

Food hardship is a problem in every community in the state and it can go unseen by those not looking for it.

It can be hidden behind doors of nice houses with mortgages in default, with all money going to housing costs and no more for food. Or it can be hidden behind the faces of parents who skip meals to protect their children from hunger.

Families often have to make difficult decisions between food and medicine or food and paying the bills. Many times, families will buy cheaper, less heathy options.

We can help by passing along information about what is available to those in need or donating to those groups helping. Donating could be many things — food, monetary or time.

There’s also a texting service families can subscribe to by texting “food” to 877877, and it’ll prompt them to enter their address. Then, the service will inform the user of the closest spots to help with food struggles.

While many in Kentucky struggle to put food on the table, there is help. And we can all help in this battle and keep our neighbors from going hungry every night.

Richmond Register