As grocery prices skyrocket and food insecurity persists, a crisis is looming for thousands of families and individuals across Kentucky. In the face of this challenge, Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH) is calling upon Congress to take action and bolster vital food assistance programs through the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill. By doing so, lawmakers can not only alleviate hunger but also support local farmers and build stronger communities.
With each passing day, the cost of pantry staples like meat, eggs and dairy continues to rise, leaving households with low incomes struggling to put food on the table. As prices soar, food banks like FAKH find themselves caught in a perfect storm of depleted food donations and inflated operational costs. The consequences? Our neighbors in need could be left grappling with empty refrigerators and persistent hunger.
The answer lies in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a lifeline that moves U.S.-grown food from farms to food banks. TEFAP is a cornerstone of Feeding America’s network, providing over 20% of the food distributed through their extensive system of food banks. In fact, from July 2022 through June 2023, FAKH distributed over 3.7 million pounds of TEFAP food across their 42 county service area which provided enough food for over 3 million meals. By increasing funding for TEFAP, Congress can ensure that nutritious essentials such as fruits, vegetables, meat and grains reach those who need them most, combating hunger and supporting local farmers simultaneously.
The 2023 Farm Bill presents a unique opportunity for our congressional leaders to make a lasting impact. By strengthening TEFAP and also bolstering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Congress can provide timely and targeted benefits to eligible families, enhancing their purchasing power for groceries. Together, these crucial programs can create a safety net that ensures no one goes hungry due to unaffordable prices or limited access to nutritious food.
Beyond the immediate relief it offers, investing in TEFAP and SNAP holds the potential to revitalize Kentucky’s agricultural economy. By increasing purchases from local farmers, growers and producers, we can generate a ripple effect of prosperity that extends far beyond the dinner table.
This is an urgent matter affecting over 579,000 Kentuckians which Congress can address by supporting our communities. We encourage readers to urge their elected officials, including Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, as well as Representatives James Comer and Brett Guthrie, to prioritize and strengthen these vital food assistance programs in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Together, let us raise awareness, ignite advocacy, and work towards a future where no one is left hungry because they cannot afford a meal. Together, we can ensure that nourishment, stability and opportunity reach every doorstep in our great state.
You can advocate in the fight against hunger today by calling your elected representatives and telling them to strengthen food assistance programs in the 2023 Farm Bill. Find your officials here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
Op-Ed by Jamie Sizemore, Executive Director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland and the FAKH Board of Directors. As executive director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, Jamie Sizemore oversees the daily operations of FAKH, which partners with more than 225 agencies in 42 central, south central, and western counties in Kentucky. She also serves on the Kentucky Association of Food Banks statewide board.