BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, met with Allen County leaders today to discuss new strategies to combat food insecurity throughout the county.
Around 14 per cent of adults and over 17 per cent of children across the county are currently facing food insecurity. This means that over 3,000 county residents do not have reliable access to affordable nutritious food.
“The rate of food insecurity is high here, for both adults and children. And so we feel that there are not enough resources and food flowing into this community to meet all of those needs,” said Jamie Sizemore, executive director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.
Sizemore believes that Allen County food pantry organizers need to partner with Feeding America to successfully get food to those in need, allowing them access to fresh produce, meat and dairy products.
“There is not enough food coming into this county to meet the needs of those who are food insecure,” Sizemore said. “So that’s part of our job, we have the resources but we need the partners, the boots on the ground partners here in Allen County who know their neighbors better than we do.”
Representatives from Feeding America also say transportation is one of the hidden obstacles for many facing food insecurity. Many of those who are food insecure also work full-time and are unable to reach some pantries during limited operating hours.
Sizemore said, “We’re trying to find partners and be where people are, and meet them where they are. Instead of asking them to go somewhere else to get food.”
Allen County judge executive Dennis Harper says that until now it has been difficult to provide the necessary resources to hungry families. This is partly due to limited knowledge of where and when local pantries operate.
“I get a lot of phone calls here in my office from people calling me and saying, ‘We need food, where can we get food?’ and I don’t always have the answer,” Harper said. “I can send them to some people I know who have food pantries, but they’re not functioning or they’re out of food at the time and they can’t get the help.”
After today’s meeting, many local pantry organizers were able to coordinate schedules and share them with Judge Harper. Both groups hope that this collaboration, along with a partnership with Feeding America, will help address Allen County’s food insecurity.
“We’re all in this together, and people want you to know that we’re all in this together. Whatever we can do to help, we will help,” Harper said.
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