Food bank demand drops as Kentucky children return to class

Job losses and months of virtual learning when children didn’t have school lunches during the pandemic have created a hunger crisis for many Kentucky families.

Now, the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Bluegrass State and declining virus cases have eased the hunger crisis as parts of life move closer to normal.

Feeding Kentucky’s Heart in America continues its regular food distribution to approximately 1,000 households in Lampkin Park in Warren County once a month.

But with many children returning to in-person learning at school and having some of their meals there, Feeding America has combined two emergency distributions in Warren County into one monthly location.

Executive director Jamie Sizemore said that in April the food bank served 432 households in Ephram White Park and 372 households in Buchanan Park.

“So those have continued to drop, in both cases, particularly in Buchanan. So what we decided to do is ask everyone in Buchanan Park to go to Ephram White,” Sizemore said. “So these two together we’re going to serve about 800 plus households.”

Sizemore said that as the crisis phase of the pandemic and the resulting food insecurity diminish, Feeding America Kentuky’s Heartlabd is in the recovery phase.

The Elizabethtown-based food bank serves 42 counties in central, south-central and western Kentucky through regular and emergency distributions, local food pantries and community programs. The food bank works with 225 partner organizations.

“Families with school-aged children are still the group that has been the highest factor in visiting food pantries during this pandemic. And so we still see some of that. They’re not out of it yet,” Sizemore said. “But things have become a little calmer now that the stimulus check, the third is out, the kids are mostly back in school.”

Sizemore said while the need for emergency food has diminished a little for now, it usually increases again in the summer when children are out of school.

More than half of the people served by Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland have to choose between paying for utilities and buying food.

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