Kentucky food bank seeing impacts from Biden administration’s hunger relief assistance

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 2:34 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With adults out of jobs and kids out of schools, food insecurity became a common symptom of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We hadn’t seen increases that fast, increases ever in the history of this nation,” UK Professor James Ziliak said.

An executive order by the Biden administration is targeting those lines and lines of families turning to food banks to survive.

The hunger relief campaign has increased food stamps by more than $1 billion a month, expanded a produce allowance for pregnant women and children, and authorized the largest children’s summer feeding program in history.

It’s a magnitude of food assistance increase that Ziliak said we haven’t seen since 1977.

“I think it’s going to have a dramatic impact on food security of American families, in particular children,” Ziliak said.

God’s Pantry Food Bank, which serves people in Central and Eastern Kentucky, has already noticed its benefits, especially after a year full of unprecedented need.

“Last week we actually had less folks come to the pantries in Fayette County than we had seen from before the pandemic,” God’s Pantry Food Bank CEO Michael Halligan said.

It’s a relief for food banks that have been serving double the number of families they usually do.

“Our inventories are at the lowest levels they’ve been since October of 2019,” Halligan said. “But all that being said, we’re prepared to help serve those that need food, but I would much rather see folks accessing food at a grocery store than standing in line at a food pantry or food bank, it’s just far more supportive, and standing in line for food is just not something that we want to see anybody do.”

This campaign for hunger relief assistance is a temporary increase, but some officials hope it is setting the stage for a permanent expansion of aid.

Similar expansions in the past have brought counterattacks from leaders who call it a form of welfare, arguing the programs undercut work and marriage.

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