Collecting food for the hungry is only half the job for a coalition of school and nonprofit groups in Greenup County.
It also wants to spread the word hunger is a real problem for an increasing number of northeastern Kentucky families.
The fifth annual “Filled With Hope” hunger awareness campaign and food drive is kicking off, and organizers hope to fill local food pantries while raising awareness.
The campaign is enlisting schools, businesses, churches and others in the community to help, and is providing bags to fill and updated information on most-needed items.
Response in previous years has been encouraging, but the need for help is greater than ever, according to Tammy Steele, director of the McKinney-Vento program in the Greenup County School District. The program coordinates services to children who are homeless or in precarious housing conditions.
“There have been many changes on the homefront again this year with cuts in programs including SNAP benefits and kinship care allowances,” Steele said. “It seems we are seeing an even greater number of families who are reporting financial hardships again this year.”
Social service agencies are reporting more requests for assistance, including more first-time requests, she said.
The campaign is designed to continue through early November, during which participants will gather food, and culminate just before Thanksgiving week with food being delivered and distributed.
That week, Nov. 16 through 24, is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
Dropoff points are Helping Hands on Main Street in Greenup and the Greenup County central office conference room adjacent to Greenup County High School.
Organizers plan to have additional helpers at both locations during the dropoff week.
Campaign organizers have printed 1,250 bags with its Filled With Hope logo, which participants may use to fill with food, or they may print off labels Steele can email with more information about the campaign.
She also can email lists of most-needed foods for the Helping Hands pantry and the school district’s brown-bag program, which sends home weekend supplies of nutritious, easy to prepare food with children who have been identified as having too little to eat at home.
For more information, call Steele at (606) 473-1447, school district food service administrator Diana McCabe at 473-9810 or Helping Hands director Debbie Blevins at 473-6916.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2652.