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The Demand for Food is Rapidly Increasing

126,000 people across 13 Kentuckiana counties lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

A Look in the Mirror

Understanding the face of hunger in our communities

It’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning when the sun cuts through the windshield of a car parked on Fern Valley Road. The woman behind the wheel will tell you she’s been there for hours, waiting for the food bank to open. She needs to feed her family, she can’t afford to go elsewhere and she’s not alone. In the two hours before food is ready to share, the line of one stretches to tens and then hundreds, wrapping back around the intersection and further down the road.

People and their stories fill each car—a grandmother supporting three grandchildren alone in the wake of her husband’s death, a cancer survivor whose access to nutritious food is critical and a father working full-time and still unable to meet the rising price of food to support his family. While each person and their stories are unique, they are not rare.

1 in 1

in Dare to Care’s 13-county network experience food insecurity.

10% of Kentuckiana is food insecure

That means one in every 10 neighbors is unable to secure enough food to meet their needs; that is 126,000 people in total. The number of people affected by hunger in our communities could fill the YUM! Center, Freedom Hall and the University of Louisville Football Stadium combined.

1 in 1

in Dare to Care’s 13-county network experience food insecurity.

1 in 8 Children in Kentuckiana are food insecure

After a decade-long decline in food insecurity among children, the number rose again for the first time in 2020. Across the nation, households with children experienced a significant increase in food insecurity while coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demand grows …

… as support shrinks

The pandemic established a new level of food insecurity in our communities and its impact has not receded, while funding sources have noticeably decreased.

Inflation has permeated the staples of every family diet

The cost of eggs, milk and bread have all increased and prices remain at near 40-year-highs. While nearly half of all U.S. states raised the minimum wage to offset this impact, the minimum wage in Kentucky and Indiana remains aligned with the federal requirement of $7.25.

As many of our neighbors work in poverty, the rising levels of inflation overwhelm their budgets. Money once spent on housing, utilities, transportation and food, no longer covers basic needs. This coincides with an increased demand seen by food banks and partnering agencies in Kentuckiana.

As the need grows, federal support provided during the pandemic has returned to pre-pandemic levels. All households benefiting from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received a temporary boost in benefits during the pandemic. That funding has now decreased, despite the rising need.

SNAP helps people with small budgets buy healthy food at participating stores. It is designed to support families and communities during times of increased need, expanding when the economy weakens and contracting when the economy recovers. In Kentucky, these benefits serve children more than any other demographic, though it is also a resource for those unable to afford healthy meals. Nearly half of all SNAP recipients in Kentucky are children, while 29% of recipients have a disability and 17% are working. Behind the statistics are individuals who have benefited from needed resources only to have them pulled back.

Creating a hunger-free community

Kentuckiana’s interconnected communities are picking up the slack to make up for funding shortfalls, with Dare to Care leading the way. The food bank takes a four-pronged approach in which it acts as a central hub, generating support and resources to distribute across a 13-county region and a network of more than 300 partners.

 The first step is securing nutritious food. Through local and national donors and community food drives, Dare to Care secures millions of pounds of food each year. The organization itself also purchases food items to fill gaps. The third step involves sorting and distributing the food across Kentuckiana, ensuring the highest food safety standards are met during the process. From emergency kitchens to clinics and from partnering agencies to pantries, numerous organizations receive food and other resources from Dare to Care to provide to neighbors in need. The last step is the most crucial, with thousands of neighbors directly receiving healthy, nutritious food.

Where we are now

In Jefferson County alone, Feeding America found that 77,700 people experience food insecurity. That is ten percent of the population. Surrounding counties face similar realities.

Kentucky Indiana
Jefferson County: 10 percent Harrison County: 9.4 percent
Oldham County: 5 percent Crawford County: 13.5 percent
Shelby County: 8.4 percent Washington County: 11.1 percent
Spencer County: 7.5 percent Clark County: 9.5 percent
Bullitt County: 9.7 percent Floyd County: 9.2 percent
Henry County: 12 percent
Trimble County: 12.5 percent
Carroll County: 14.3 percent

As the need to access nutritious food increases, multiple partners in each county are stepping up to the plate and meeting neighbors where they are. In 2022, Dare to Care distributed more than 19 million pounds of food through pantries, mobile markets, shelters and other partners.

Make the difference before it’s too late​

On Thanksgiving Eve in 1969, nine-year-old Bobby Ellis died of malnutrition in his Louisville home. A stunned Kentuckiana community took action and created Dare to Care Food Bank to ensure that no one in our community lacks enough food to live an active, healthy life. That mission rests on the shoulders of every generation that’s followed Bobby Ellis’s passing.

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You can play an important role in ending hunger

Check in on your friends and family

As we enter the holiday season, you’ll have more opportunities to check in with family and friends. The underlying causes of food insecurity – unemployment, poverty and inconsistent access to food – are often difficult to address or solve without help from others. Making a connection and sharing a resource can be simple.

Grow your knowledge of available resources and solutions

More than 300 partners in Kentuckiana are on a zero-hunger mission. They are strategically located to engage every corner of our communities, from English Indiana, through the heart of Louisville to Carlton Kentucky. Dare to Care offers an interactive map to find local resources, their Facebook page also offers consistent updates on changes to local resources.

Become a Dare to Care Ambassador

Dare to Care and its partners work to empower people to share their collective mission and educate others on food insecurity in our communities. You can attend one of our events, volunteer with your friends and family, host a food or fund drive, host your own event, and get your business involved to offer additional support to our neighbors.

Donate to Dare to Care Food Bank

This is one of the most needed sources of support at Dare to Care Food Bank. When you donate, you’re giving Dare to Care the ability to purchase the most needed items to support the nutritional needs of our communities. Crucial programs like senior meals and prescriptive pantry require specifically tailored diets and foods to support the wellbeing of vulnerable community members. A donation to Dare to Care, no matter the size, is a commitment to a healthier, stronger community.
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