Cars with open trunks lined up in the parking lot of Dare To Care food bank’s warehouse in the Big “A” shopping center, in the Park DuValle neighborhood, Tuesday morning. Volunteers loaded them with watermelons, potatoes, raspberries, corn and cucumbers.
“In our area, we’re experiencing food insecurity in a way that we’re seeing even more increased numbers,” Dare To Care CEO Vincent James said. “And what simply that means, is that people don’t have access to fresh, healthy foods.”
Food insecurity is not an issue that affects all Louisvillians equally. James said in some areas of the city that have been historically disinvested in, the lack of grocery stores is astounding.
“Think about just west Louisville alone, there are two grocery stores that are covering nine contiguous neighborhoods, which is insane,” James said.
Organizations ramped up free and low-cost food programs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those projects have stopped even as the pandemic continues.
“A lot of those supplemental programs that helped people during the pandemic have ended, so people are worse off now, than they were during the pandemic,” Dare To Care director of communications Alexus Richardson said. “We saw a decline during the pandemic and now we’re seeing an increase with inflation.”
In the past two months, James said his team has seen the number of cars that come through the mobile pantry alone go from 225 families to up to 350.
The increasing level of food insecurity is one thing Dare To Care hopes to raise awareness about with Hunger Action Month.
According to Dare To Care officials, in Kentucky nearly 700,000 people are dealing with food insecurity. Data from Feeding America estimates that one in eight adults in the commonwealth are food insecure and one in six children are.
Throughout the month of September, Dare To Care will have more food distribution at different locations across the city, work with schools on non-perishable food drives and partner with LouCity, the city’s professional men’s soccer team, for events focused on educating children on how to live healthy lives.
Additionally, Dare To Care will host a data launch with the Greater Louisville Project as a part of the awareness campaign.
“They’ve done all this research on food insecurity and food access, and so we’re inviting the community to talk about it, to talk about what that research says and how we can really get to those root causes of food insecurity and address those issues,” Richardson said.