God’s Pantry continues fight against hunger

By Darron Mille

[email protected]

One in six Kentuckians is at risk for hunger. Seventy-four percent of households in Kentucky have to decide between food and paying utilities, or between paying for food and paying for medicine every month. Statistics show more than 250,000 children in Kentucky wake up each morning not knowing where their next meal will come from.

These statistics from God’s Pantry Food Bank are what drive the organization that has been helping Kentuckians fight hunger since 1955.

It began when founder Mim Hunt gathered food in her station wagon and started distributing it to the less fortunate. Hunt, who had spent several years working in New York, returned to Kentucky and was troubled by the conditions that were similar to what she left in New York. Hunt died in 2005, and was in charge of God’s Pantry for more than 20 years. With the help of volunteers, her work still continues today.

God’s Pantry currently serves 50 counties of Central and Eastern Kentucky through a network of more than 300 member agencies, which include pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community service agencies with food as part of their missions.

“We’re empowering these communities to meet their needs,” said Alice George Rogers, the development coordinator for God’s Pantry.

God’s Pantry Food Bank is a member of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks and a member of Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks serving every county in the United States.

“Last year we were able to distribute over 26 million pounds of food to over 200,000 individuals,” CEO of God’s Pantry and UK alum Marian Guinn. God’s Pantry has backpack programs that provide food to kids during school vacations and weekends. Other programs include the summer feeding program, the annual Thanksgiving Boxes and the Commodity Supplemental Program.

In order to keep this operation running God’s Pantry needs the help of volunteers and donations from the community. Along with their main headquarters on 1685 Jaggie Fox Way in Lexington, there are four other pantry locations which serve 2,000 families in Fayette County every month.

“Most people look toward the holiday season and the end of the year to volunteer at the warehouse” Guinn said.

The biggest event is the annual Turkey Basket Brigade, which usually occurs a couple of weeks before turkey baskets are handed out. Spots fill up quickly and volunteers need to sign up in advance to be guaranteed a spot.

Community Services Coordinator Mary Alice Daniels said she loves when students are able to volunteer. Students can voluenteer at Central Intake to take phone referrals from social service agencies and set clients up for an appointment to pick up food at one of four area pantries.

Another way to support God’s pantry is by donating ­— every dollar donated equals eight meals and for every $10 dollars donated the food bank can distribute $100 worth of food.

“With increased support it is our hope to fill the meal gap as we work to insure that everyone has access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy life” Quinn said.