‘This is the forgotten America in Appalachia’: Floyd Countians create nonprofit to feed EKY following flood

WYMT Weekend Edition News at 11 p.m.
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 8:48 PM EDT
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KNOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - What began as an act of kindness for a friend impacted by the flood quickly turned into an organization that has served more than 70,000 meals across the region.

“The farther we’d go, the worst we’d see the devastation every day and then we would get volunteers to say, ‘can you hit another area today? Can you go a little deeper, a little farther?’ And so everyday, it kept growing,” said Brent Handshoe, President and Founder of the nonprofit organization Feeding East KY.

Shortly after the flood, Tonya Shepherd Hatfield and Brent Handshoe collected donations to help prepare and deliver meals to people across the impacted parts of the region. They eventually turned their mission into a 501c nonprofit.

On Sunday, the pair set up at the Mine Made Adventure Park in Knott County to serve the people who have been living there for the past month.

“Tomorrow school starts,” said Handshoe. “So, hopefully this meal we’re preparing today can help feed some tummies so they can go to school and get a hot meal at school tomorrow.”

Handshoe and Hatfield were not only there to feed people, but they also donated sports equipment for the kids staying at the park and donated supplies to equip some of the campers there.

“Its about just giving each other a helping hand right now in a time when we all need it,” said Handshoe.

The pair aims to help people like Brenda Cesefske, a Breathitt County native who has been living at the park for the last month.

“Its very nice that people would do that for you, that’s still thinking of you after all this time, that they would come up here and still see if you need anything,” said Cesefske.

Handshoe said the organization’s work will not be done any time soon.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis we’re facing right now in Eastern Kentucky, and if we can get this word out to the world, that’s what we gotta do,” said Handshoe. “This is the forgotten America in Appalachia.”

Feeding East KY will be giving out food again this upcoming weekend. To keep up with where the organization will be next, you can visit the Feeding East Kentucky Facebook page.