Advocacy helps us engage and mobilize elected officials and community leaders around important policy issues that impact our fight against hunger. Advocacy efforts at the Freestore Foodbank kicked into high gear last month.
On February 7, several members of our Advocacy team traveled to Frankfort, Kentucky to show support for Hunger Free Kentucky Day, organized by the Kentucky Association of Foodbanks, also known as KAFB. The Freestore Foodbank currently serves nine counties in Kentucky – Kenton, Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, Owen, Grant, Pendleton, Bracken and Mason.
“Hunger is a deeply entrenched problem in Kentucky. One in six adults has no idea where their next meal will come from and the rate is even worse for children,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks.
During Hunger Free Kentucky Day, it was encouraging to see strong support from legislators on both sides of the aisle for federal nutrition programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which supplies food to our hungry neighbors in Kentucky, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides meals to seniors. There was also widespread recognition for successful initiatives such as the Farms to Food Banks program, which provides fresh, healthy produce to our hungry neighbors in Kentucky while reducing losses for farmers. In addition, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced the first Annual Kentucky Legal Food Frenzy. The statewide competition challenges law firms, law schools and legal organizations to donate food and money to support food banks in Kentucky. The campaign gets underway on March 27 and runs through April 7.
On February 14, the Freestore Foodbank Advocacy team traveled to Indianapolis to attend Indiana Statehouse Day and to show our support for the work done by Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, also known as FISH, which is Indiana’s State Association of Food Banks. Freestore Foodbank currently serves three counties in Indiana – Ohio, Dearborn and Switzerland. Several of Indiana’s legislators attended the event and they expressed support for lifting the ban on individuals with past drug felony convictions receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, benefits. Elected officials also expressed support of the elimination of state asset limits for SNAP.
In Ohio, the Ohio Association of Foodbank’s Lobby Day took place on February 23r.. The Freestore Foodbank Advocacy team traveled to Columbus and met with important lawmakers and their staff. Joined by other Ohio food banks, we advocated for funding that will align all of Ohio’s funded hunger relief efforts within a single request.
“We know that hunger is not only bad for hungry people, but bad for our entire economy and all of us,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “And if we can all agree that hunger is both a moral issue and an economic one, we can focus on how to best address it.”
The Freestore currently serves eight counties in Ohio – Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, Adams, Scioto, Pike, Highland and Clinton. Our budget request is for a $30 million per year allocation which will allow Ohio to comprehensively address hunger through the continuation of critical programs such as the Ohio Food Program, the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program and SNAP.
“With your help and your increased investment in these proven and effective programs, we will be better positioned to ensure that we’re sending families home with real, wholesome food to help them nourish their children,” said Hamler-Fugitt. “We’ll be better equipped to respond to the increasing number of older adults that find themselves in our pantry lines every month when their social security checks run out. We’ll be able to better address multiple barriers facing low-income households through wraparound services. We’ll be better prepared for the task at hand, a moral calling to feed the hungry and an economic responsibility to promote the health and well-being of our most vulnerable neighbors and friends.”