Tamara Sandberg

Hunger is a reality for nearly 700,000 Kentuckians, including 1 in 5 children. They live in every single county and legislative district in the Bluegrass state.

In response, last year the members of Feeding Kentucky distributed the equivalent of 64 million meals through a network of over 800 charitable feeding agencies such as pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. We feed 50,000 Kentuckians each week. Food banks would not exist without support from individual donors, the business community, civic groups and elected officials.

Hunger is a serious problem in Kentucky. But it doesn't have to be. If we work together as a Commonwealth, we can end hunger one helping at a time. With every action, we get one step closer to making hunger a thing of the past.

That's why Feeding Kentucky and Feeding America are recognizing Hunger Action Month, which takes place each September. Hunger Action Month is a nationwide campaign to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. The campaign brings greater attention to hunger in the U.S. and promotes ways for people everywhere to get involved in the movement to fight it.

You can help mobilize your community and get involved by taking any or all of the actions below.

• Volunteer at your local food pantry or regional food bank.

• Donate food or funds to your local food pantry and be part of the hunger-relief solution.

• Invite your state and federal legislators to visit your local food bank.

• Take action online: like and follow Feeding Kentucky, your regional food bank, and your local food pantry on social media. Post about actions you are taking to fight hunger.

• Participate in the special events occurring around Kentucky this month.

Another action you can take in the fight against hunger is to start working now to help ensure a fair, accurate and complete 2020 U.S. Census. The data collected by the Census determine how hundreds of billions of federal dollars are allocated for key hunger-fighting programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch program and Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). If the data are wrong, there will be inequitable distribution of resources for basic community needs such as food and income security. Information on what you can do to help ensure a fair and accurate count, including a current list of Complete Count Committees in Kentucky, is available at www.kynonprofits.org/census2020.

We can all do our part to help end hunger. This year's Hunger Action Month campaign seeks 40,000 actions -- a volunteer shift, a social media post, or a donation -- from the public that will help end hunger one helping at a time. Every action counts, so visit HungerActionMonth.org to learn how you can get started.

Sandberg is executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks.

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