Nutrition, Food Bank Programs Prepare to Fight for Funding
One in six people in Kentucky struggles with hunger, and the rate is even higher among the state's youth, according to the group Feeding America.
Such statistics are why hunger-fighting groups are concerned about possible cuts to federal nutrition programs under the Trump administration.
Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, was one of 1,200 people in Washington this week at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.
He says this year, people turned out in record numbers to advocate for the much needed programs.
"They help kids do better in school,” he states. “They make people healthier. They save health care system costs.
“They're really among the very best investments that government makes in this country. So, they're potentially under threat from the Congress and the president. "
While Congress hasn't yet made an official attempt to reduce nutrition funding, House Speaker Paul Ryan has stated a desire to trim and even dismantle some programs.
The Kentucky Association of Food Banks says more than 53,000 Kentuckians receive food from a food bank each week.
Weill says last year, Kentucky saw a more than 10 percent increase in the growth of free and reduced price school breakfast for low-income students.
And with pockets of poverty spread throughout the state, he says people may not even know their neighbors struggle with having enough to eat.
"Hunger in states like Kentucky is more prevalent than it is in some of the wealthier states,” he points out. “What people don't always realize is that their neighbors, their coworkers, people around them may be going hungry. Parents are skipping meals so kids get enough to eat."
This week, Weill and others delivered a statement signed by almost 3,000 national and state organizations calling on the president and Congress to maintain policies that ensure no one is hungry.