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Child Hunger In Kentucky Higher than National Rate

Feeding Kentucky
Credit Feeding Kentucky

A new report from Feeding America shows that 187,000 children in Kentucky are at risk of going hungry. 

The report, called Map the Meal Gap 2019, details state and county data on food insecurity, which means that a person may not have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

The report shows that food insecurity among children in Kentucky actually decreased slightly from 19 percent in last year’s report to 18 percent in the new report. 

Tamara Sandberg, executive director of Feeding Kentucky, said while the percentage of child hunger is going in the right direction, it’s not enough.

"The bottom line is that’s still horrifying. It’s still unacceptable, you know, that many Kentucky children don’t always have enough food to eat," said Sandberg. "And Kentucky’s child food insecurity rate remains higher than the national average, so clearly there’s a lot more work yet to do. ”

The national rate of food insecurity among children is 17 percent.

Statewide, Oldham County has the lowest rate of child food insecurity at eight percent. The highest rate of food insecurity among children in Kentucky is in Magoffin County at 23 percent.

Sandberg said more has to be done to make sure every child in Kentucky has a dependable supply of healthy food.

“School lunch has been such a wonderful resource to help kids keep their bellies full. But, of course, when school lets out in the summertime and those kids don’t have access to their lunches provided by the school lunch program, that’s a problem,” Sandberg said.

She wants to see the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as food stamps, maintained at adequate levels so that families have enough food.

Feeding Kentucky is made up of seven Feeding America food banks that reach all 120 counties in the state. Last year Feeding Kentucky distributed 64 million meals through partnerships with more than 800 charitable organizations, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. 

Feeding America is nationwide hunger relief organization with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. 

Copyright 2019 WKU Public Radio

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans. She has worked at Rhode Island Public Radio, as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rhonda’s freelance work called Writing Into Sound includes stories for Voice of America, WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., NPR and AARP Prime Time Radio. She has a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Rhonda enjoys quiet water kayaking, riding her bicycle and folk music. She was a volunteer DJ for Root-N-Branch at WUMD community radio in Dartmouth, Mass.