A report released recently by the nonprofit Feeding America -- formerly Kentucky Association of Food Banks -- found that 13,350 people in Christian County do not have access to enough food.

The Map the Meal Gap study used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen to create its report.

Locally, there are numerous programs designed to help feed those in need. The Aaron McNeil House is one local United Way partner that offers a food pantry Monday through Friday and the second Saturday of each month.

Tamara Watts, administrative assistant at the Aaron McNeil House, said the food bank hasn't necessarily seen a rise in day-to-day activities.

"We have folks who come every 90 days or folks who come just when they need to," she said.

The regular food pantry takes place every three months, Monday through Friday.

Though the participation in the normal food bank has stayed relatively the same, she said the food bank's commodity distribution program has seen a rise over the past few years.

Through a United States Department of Agriculture program, the food bank distributes commodity foods -- like milk or meat -- to Christian County residents monthly. That program runs on the second Saturday of each month and requires a Christian County ID to participate in.

"We only started (the commodity distribution program) a few years ago," she said. "I think we were doing like 100 (at the beginning). When we did our distribution this past April, I believe we served 340."

The program has no age or income requirement.

"We don't collect social security cards or IDs, nothing like that," Watts said. "We just have them show us that they live here, they sign the form and they take the groceries with them."

She said some people are more comfortable with that program because the normal food pantry requires the Aaron McNeil House to keep the individuals' information on file.

The Aaron McNeil House also participates in a backpack program with Freedom Elementary School. That program -- funded through a partnership with Feeding America -- ensures that the school lunch isn't the only meal that a child eats each day by sending the student home with a backpack of food.

"We're serving 197 kids," Watts said of the program.

According to the study by Feeding America, the total annualized additional dollar amount the food-insecure individuals need in the county to meet their basic food needs is over $6 million.

In the northern part of the county, Branch Outreach offers food bank services at 104 E. Princeton St. in Crofton. Faithful Servant Outreach Ministry and Elisha's Closet offer food pantry services in Oak Grove.

To find a food pantry near your home, go to www.foodpantries.org. To learn more information about the services provided by the Aaron McNeil House, call 270-886-9734.

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