Food insecurity worse in the region than rest of state: Study

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)A new national report finds food insecurity is worse in central and eastern Kentucky than in other parts of the state.

‘Map the Meal Gap 2020,’ which was compiled by the Feeding America hunger group, revealed the child food insecurity rate at 21.5% for central and eastern Kentucky compared to 16.5% for the overall population.

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According to the report, which was released locally by God’s Pantry Food Bank, overall food insecurity in Central and Eastern Kentucky ranges from a low of 11% of the population in Scott County up to 24.8% in Harlan County

The numbers don’t reflect the impact on food insecurity as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sadly, across Central and Eastern Kentucky food insecurity remains a major concern. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has likely increased the need,” says Michael Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank. “The Food Bank has been doing this work for 65 years, we are committed to feeding those who find themselves needing access to food, and will be here until the work is done.”

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 provide food assistance to more than 40 million people in the U.S. struggling with hunger.

God’s Pantry Food Bank distributed 39.7 million pounds of food in 2019 to more than 200,000 recipients who needed food assistance.

Map the Meal Gap 2020 uses data from the Department of Agriculture, indicators of food insecurity (poverty, unemployment and homeownership), Current Population Survey, food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

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.

This is the 10th consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the ‘Map the Meal Gap’ study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2020 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.