ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WBKO) – Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, a regional food bank serving 42 Kentucky counties, has invested $2.7 million in resources toward December 2021 tornado recovery efforts to date.
Jamie Sizemore, Executive Director of Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland said the non-profit organization anticipates spending $4 million by the end of this year.
“Most of our service area is rural, with a large number of people already living at or below poverty level,” Sizemore said. “We also expect to serve a large number of people who have never asked for help before. And many of these tornado survivors don’t just need help with food, they need everything as they try to piece their lives back together.”
Initial damage assessments reported that 23 counties in the FAKH service area had sustained varying levels of damage.
Later, Barren, Caldwell, Christian, Fulton, Graves, Hart, Hickman, Logan, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Taylor and Warren counties were declared disaster areas by FEMA due to the significant loss of homes, businesses and lives.
In Bowling Green and Warren County alone, an estimated 500 homes were either destroyed or sustained significant damage.
Most of downtown Mayfield was leveled, including PADD Food Bank, a Partner Distribution Organization of FAKH that serves the eight most western counties in Kentucky.
Jackie Herndon has served as the executive director of Mayfield-Graves County Needline and Food Pantry for 13 years and said the December tornadoes created an even bigger challenge for Herndon’s community, which was already struggling to recover from the pandemic.
“Tornado damage has even impacted the day-to-day routines of folks in Mayfield,” Herndon said.
In light of these struggles, staff at the Needline are spending more time with clients, many of whom have had limited social interaction over the past two years.
“We’ve just slowed down and enjoyed talking to people more,” Herndon said.
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