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KY Food Bank Demand Rises Amid Inflation, Fuel Costs

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022   

Food banks are struggling to keep up operations as they contend with rising fuel costs, inflation and an uptick in demand driven by the end of pandemic-era food assistance.

Supply-chain issues have tightened the flow of donations at God's Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, said chief executive Mike Halligan, and getting a variety of food products has been a challenge. He said expiration of the Commonwealth's Emergency Health Declaration in the pandemic has stopped supplemental SNAP benefits to households already pinched by cost-of-living increases.

"So their economic impacts are tighter," he said, "and they have to cope with the inflation and the tightening supply chain when they have less benefits to spend."

Nationwide, federal figures show, food insecurity is on the rise, especially among children. In 2020, more than 6 million kids experienced hunger. Kentucky families who need help can text the word "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 304-304 to find a nearby site to pick up free meals. The food sites are operated by No Kid Hungry Kentucky and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's summer meals program.

Halligan said the cost for fuel for Food Bank trucks to deliver food to communities across central and eastern Kentucky also has risen significantly.

"Our fuel costs are increasing 15.2%, to almost a quarter of a million dollars," he said. "That's up $32,000 from what it was a year ago."

Along with donations, Halligan said food banks are seeking volunteers to help with food distribution during the summer months.

"It's because those with families who are not in school over the summer don't have access to the National School Lunch Program," he said, "and so the food bill for households with kids goes up in the summertime."

Federally funded child nutrition COVID-19 waivers are set to expire on June 30. Most Americans say they support expanding SNAP benefits permanently, according to a survey earlier this year by the Purdue University Center for Food Demand.


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