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Study shows children in Central, Eastern Kentucky more likely to face hunger than overall population

God’s Pantry Food Bank announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2019, the latest report by Feeding America on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. It is the only study that provides food insecurity data at the local level.

Map the Meal Gap 2019 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in God’s Pantry Food Bank service area. It also shows that children are more likely to be food insecure, with the child food insecurity rate at 20.7 percent compared to 16.2 percent for the overall population for Central and Eastern Kentucky.

“There isn’t a single state or county in America free from child hunger, and it is within our collective power to change that and ensure that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America. “The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is investing in our nation’s future by helping to provide over 146 million meals to children every year. Still, Map the Meal Gap highlights that more must be done. Together food banks, corporations, policymakers, donors, volunteers and advocates can solve hunger.”

“I encourage everyone to visit the website, map.feedingamerica.org to find out what hunger looks like in their community and get involved to be part of the solution,” Babineaux-Fontenot continued. “One way is to tell Congress to invest in kids during Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation and increase access to food for kids during the summer. Your voice matters and we can make a difference.”

Overall food insecurity in Central and Eastern Kentucky ranges from a low of 11.3 percent of the population in Scott County up to 22.5 percent in Magoffin County.

The analysis also finds that 27 percent of residents in our service area who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements. This means that many households must rely even more on the Food Bank.

“The food and support resources we offer through more than 400 local food pantries and meal programs in Central and Eastern Kentucky are working,” said Michael Halligan, CEO for God’s Pantry Food Bank. “While we’ve seen a slight decrease in food insecurity over the past year we know our work is not done. There are still nearly 250,000 people, including more than 70,000 children in our area who may not know when or from where their next meal will come.”

God’s Pantry Food Bank is a member of Feeding America’s hunger-relief network comprised of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that together provides food assistance to more than 40 million people in the U.S. struggling with hunger. God’s Pantry Food Bank distributed more than 35 million pounds of food in 2018 to more than 200,000 recipients who needed food assistance.

Map the Meal Gap 2019 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

Key Local Facts:

• Congressional District 5, which is Central and Eastern Kentucky, has the highest food insecurity rate of 19 percent. That includes Magoffin County, which is highest in the state at 22.5 percent.

• More than 70,000 children are food insecure in Central and Eastern Kentucky.

The study’s findings underscore the extent of need that remains in communities in Central and Eastern Kentucky and across the U.S., despite national measures from the USDA that indicate overall improvement.

Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group, is the lead researcher of Map the Meal Gap 2019.

This is the ninth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2019 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners, food banks and advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org.

From God’s Pantry Food Bank

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