LONDON, Ky. (WDKY) – It’s estimated one in five Kentucky children struggle with hunger. That is almost 120,000 kids across the commonwealth who don’t have a secure source of food.
In Laurel County, UnitedHealthCare is partnering up with former Kentucky football star and current Miami Dolphins player Lynn Bowden, Jr. to feed hungry students.
Paper bags went down an assembly line at God’s Pantry Food Bank in London as volunteers filled them with snacks and nutritious foods for hundreds of hungry students in Laurel County—a list that is sadly growing.
“The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has led to a surge of children facing hunger,” said Ashley Hobbs with UnitedHealthCare.
That’s where UnitedHealthCare Community Plan of Kentucky is stepping in. Thanks to a $15,000 donation to the Laurel County Dreambuilders Foundation and partnership with Bowden, students in the area won’t be going hungry.
“Even before the pandemic, Kentucky ranked 44th in food sufficiency, or children in households that could provide nutritious meals in the last two months. So it’s really important for us with the pandemic, and even after, to make sure these kids in Laurel County have a nutritious meal to take home,” Hobbs said.
Those 600 bags of food will be going to students all across Laurel County schools, giving these families one less thing to worry about in a year of so many uncertainties.
Students will also get to see a video message from Bowden, encouraging them to work hard in school and make healthy choices.
“I just want to encourage you guys get out of the house and do stuff that’s proactive to help take care of your bodies and stay healthy and right during this time, and also focus on school,” Bowden said.
The program means families involved in the school’s backpack program will be getting weekly meals for the rest of the school year. It’s a small victory in the fight to make sure no child, no Kentuckian, no American, goes hungry.
From 2016 to 2018, the percentage of Kentucky households that were unable to provide adequate food was three points higher than the national average.