Local Community Responds to Fight Hunger During COVID-19
Neighbors helping neighbors isn't new in west Kentucky's Ohio County.
What is new, now with hundreds of local residents out of work, many are in need of extra help with meals during the coronavirus pandemic. God's Pantry Food Bank volunteers, the Green River Health District, WXMZ 99.9 FM, and the AARP Ohio County Chapter rallied to launch a local challenge. It worked. The pantry began receiving in-kind donations and cash for restocking the pantry shelves and meet the need.
Hartford radio station, WXMZ, helped promote the fundraising drive. Live on-air interviews with AARP Kentucky State President Charlotte Whittaker helped to spread the word. The organizers didn't expect the community's overwhelming and generous response to the AARP Chapter's $300 "seed money" challenge. To date, the food challenge has raised some $8,000 ($10,600 - updated April 27) dollars for the pantry. "So many people are waiting for federal COVID-19 Relief Stimulus checks," said Charlotte Whittaker. She added, "They're all having a tough time."
As the pandemic spread and businesses closed, the food pantry received 50 new applications. It typically serves 500 families and assists with 300 kids' backpack meals monthly. Local Senior Services requested extra help with additional food to take to the seniors receiving Meals on Wheels. According to Green River Health Department's Rebecca Baird, "Most of the seniors are not getting out of their homes, and the pantry was able to give extra food to Senior Services for their clients."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Kentuckians are going to food banks for the first time. The needs of those facing hunger now are greater than ever. Local volunteers at Ohio County Food Pantry are working to meet their neighbors needs. The AARP Ohio County Chapter #4061 contributed raised hundreds of dollars for the pantry. Every dollar donated helps the pantry distribute 8 meals with help from Feeding America.
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