As we enter upon the Thanksgiving holiday, food is on a lot of people’s minds.
However, there are a number of people who always have food on their minds and they most likely won’t get to enjoy the same food as others on Thanksgiving.
That’s the 15.4 percent, or 2,980 people in Adair County’s population that are food insecure, meaning they do not have sufficient food at least part of the time.
More than a fifth, or 810, of those people are children.
“Adair County is actually higher than our full service area,” said Jamie Sizemore, Feeding America Kentucky Heartland executive director.
These numbers come from the 2017 Overall County Food Insecurity study conducted by Feeding America.
According to the organization, food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.
“Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time,” states Feeding America. “Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.”
Senior hunger is another major issue in Kentucky, as 8.4 percent of seniors in the state are considered food insecure. Kentucky is ranked the highest state for food insecurity in older adults (age 50-59) in the United States.
“We see a lot of seniors who, based on their limited income, can’t pay for their medicine or their electricity,” said Sizemore. “Some of them still have rent or mortgages, so food is last on the list.”
There are multiple organizations in Adair County that are partnering with Feeding America as well as doing their own work to eliminate the heartbreaking food insecurity issue in the county.
The Adair County Senior Center serves hot, nutritious lunches at no cost to seniors Monday through Friday.
Seniors can receive free transport to and from the center and lunches can be delivered to those who can’t get out. They currently serve a total of 35 seniors – 15 in house and 20 get deliveries.
The lunches come prepared from the Lake Cumberland Area Development District’s central kitchen and they also offer food boxes to seniors who qualify for Feeding America’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
To qualify for the program, a senior must be at least 60 years of age and have a specific income threshold. They will receive a box of nutritious, nonperishable USDA foods once a month.
J.O.Y. Ministries also provides CSFP to needy seniors and the program serves 204 seniors between the two centers.
In addition to this, J.O.Y. Ministries provides bags of dry foods containing three to four meals that individuals and families with or without homes can receive every other week, giving out an average of 250 bags a month.
Lindsey Wilson College’s Food Recovery Network Chapter (formerly Campus Kitchen) now brings unserved foods from the Cranmer Dining Center to J.O.Y. to give out when available.
Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry supplies donated deer meat to J.O.Y. Ministries when available and also gives to the Adair County Food Pantry.
The Adair County Food Pantry serves around 300 people, both individuals and families, once a month and along with the occasional deer meat, provides a variety of non-perishable items.
They receive food from Feeding America through The Emergency Food Assistance Program government commodities and help supply for Feeding America’s BackPack program.
Teachers and family resource coordinators identify children in need and the food pantry provides 12-15 easy to prepare food items every Friday to consume over the weekend.
The Garden Church is yet another Feeding America partner in the county and Trinity United Methodist Church, Glensfork Nazarene Church and the Columbia Church of Christ also provide their own food pantries.
The Adair County Food Pantry supervisor, Michele Fruth, says that the clientele grows quickly.
“We get half a dozen to a dozen new clients weekly,” said Fruth.
Donations from the community could come in handy for these organizations, but Sizemore recommends monetary donations rather than actual food donations.
“We appreciate food drives, but we can take $1 and acquire nine pounds of food with that. With the agencies that are in your area, a dollar goes a lot further than if you go to the grocery store and buy food because of the buying power we have. By working with the partner agencies, we can help them stretch their dollar on extra stuff that they need,” said Sizemore.
Donating is easy – simply take the donation to any of the agencies or visit donatenow.networkforgood.org/feedingamericaky.
In the last 12 months as of Sept. 30, Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, with the help of the four partner agencies in Adair County, has distributed 212,967 meals to residents of the county.
In this time of giving, consider helping those in your community have plenty on their plate this season.
By Anna Buckman