According to the Kentucky Farm Bureau, the state has approximately 85,000 farms, more than almost any other state in the country. However, despite its leadership in agriculture, Kentucky also has high rates of hunger. According to the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, one in six Kentuckians do not know where their next meal will come from and one in four Kentucky children lack access to consistent, healthy meals.
Fortunately, organizations in this state are finding ways to use another resources – technology – to tackle the issue of hunger. Whether it’s soliciting grants or donations online or using the promise of better infrastructure to compel action, Kentuckians have found unique ways to use technology to address this tough issue.
For example, two cities in Kentucky earned grants from the Local Food, Local Places initiative, a program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides “direct technical support and expertise to community partners integrating local food systems into regional economic action plans.” According to Kentucky.Com, “Barbourville received support to expand its current farmers market into a permanent facility” while “Hazard is developing a non-profit organization to launch community identified local food system projects, including creating the North Fork Market, a local food retail store.”
To get aid from the program, cities must apply to participate in the program online by Sept. 15.
Next there is Walking with Love, an organization that created a food bank in central Kentucky and that is working to establish a café where meals are offered for whatever patrons can pay. The group coordinates its efforts through Facebook and solicits donations online. Because of technology, anyone in the world can support this small, local – but impactful – nonprofit!
Farmers markets around the state have also made greater efforts to advertise online and to reach out to the community, especially in more densely populated areas like Louisville. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture also maintains a list of markets to make it easier for residents to find out how they can find fresh foods.
Other groups have used the promise of improved technology to spur individuals to help feed their hungry neighbors. Through a program called Lead2Feed, which rewards schools for their efforts to fight hunger, Doss High School in Louisville was one of just five schools in the United States that won a $5,000 prize to improve technology. The students at Doss fed “over 400 people in one day at the Franciscan Kitchen.”
Finally, several food banks in the state benefit from Wal-Mart’s nationwide social media challenge to end hunger. Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland Executive Director Gary Miles said the campaign “is critical to our collective ability to raise awareness about the issue, secure more local funds and, ultimately, provide greater access to more people in need in the 42 counties we serve.”
Ending hunger in Kentucky won’t happen overnight, but with better online resources, Kentuckians are more equipped to address this difficult and persistent issue.More