Lexington Food Justice Podcast #12

Hunger Action Month

On September 15th we continued our focus on hunger and poverty in our community during"Hunger Action Month”.

Mike Halligan is the Executive Director of God's Pantry Food Bank. The mission of God’s Pantry Food Bank is to reduce hunger in Kentucky through community cooperation making the best possible use of all available resources.

Malcolm Ratchford is the Executive Director for Community Action Council. A non-profit dedicated to helping people with low-income find pathways out of poverty.

Mike and Malcolm continue to provide context to help us understand poverty & hunger through the lens of those struggling. Many work multiple jobs and/or go to school. While caring for their families. Yet still can't make ends meet. This is especially tragic when unable to provide food for their families.

Mike & Malcolm offer some poignant first-hand accounts of families they have served. And I'll admit - I had to choke back tears and compose myself. I hope you all are equally touched in a way that will motivate and inspire you to get involved to fight hunger and poverty in our community!

Listen to our Podcast!

Here's a Recap

History of God's Pantry

  • Grew from effort by Mim Hunt. A private citizen who in 1955 began distributing food from the back of her station wagon. To feed the hungry in our community. Through the years, this small effort grew into the large-scale hunger relief org.
  • God's Pantry is a member of Feeding America. Whose Mission is to create a hunger-free America. This network includes more than 200 food banks and food-rescue organizations.
  • Serving every county in the U.S., Feeding America distributes food and grocery products. Increases public awareness of domestic hunger. Advocates for policies that advance its Mission and those of its network organizations - Like God's Pantry.
  • In Kentucky, God’s Pantry is a member of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. The seven Feeding America Food Banks working in Kentucky join together to maximize the effectiveness serving the state.
  • Click Here → God's Pantry Website
  • Click Here → God's Pantry Facebook
  • Here's a video that discusses hunger in America. And is posted on the website for God's Pantry.


History of Community Action COuncil

  • Community Action agencies were established throughout the US in response to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, a cornerstone of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty.
  • This law was intended to mobilize resources to fight poverty throughout the US.
  • Recognizing that local communities were better able to assess their needs and define programs to serve their own citizens. Nonprofit agencies were established in communities throughout the country to administer such programs using funds from the federal government and other public and private sources.
  • The look of American poverty has changed in some ways over the past fifty years, but the essential challenge remains the same.
  • Community Action Lexington-Fayette County (CALF) was organized by five local community activists in 1965. In 1974 the Council expanded its service area to include Nicholas County, and later, Bourbon and Harrison Counties.
  • Today, the organization known as Community Action Council for Lexington-Fayette Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas Counties addresses the needs of both urban and rural populations in Central Kentucky.
  • CAC believes that people with low income must be active participants in the ultimate solutions to poverty. As such, CAC is committed to developing civic capital and promoting involvement by identifying and capitalizing on the assets, leadership and talents present within the community.
  • Collaborating closely with other local organizations - Like God's Pantry - and businesses in order to share resources.
  • Click Here → CAC Website 
  • Click Here → CAC Facebook
  • Here's a fantastic video about the history of the Community Action Movement that was the genesis of Community Action Council agencies across the country.

The benefits Cliff

Malcolm discussed the concept of a "benefits cliff" as a barrier for low-income families trying to move up the economic ladder. Where going to work or getting a raise may causes a folks to make difficult decisions that will affect their ability to continuing feeding their families or providing housing, etc.

In benefits cliff scenarios, benefits decrease as earnings increase, and the loss of benefits may partially or completely offset the family’s earnings. For some benefits, there is no phase out and the loss of benefits is abrupt.

Here are some additional articles that may help in understanding this concept:

Hmmm . . . With every show, we always seem to discover more interesting topics!

Childhood Hunger

Both Mike & Malcolm discussed the relationship between hunger and academic performance with children who experience hunger. Mike also discussed how the timing of families who need the services of God's Pantry often coincides with the last week before receiving their SNAP benefits.

Coincidentally, my co-host Ben heard this article on NPR's Morning Edition (September 21, 2017) that examines these concepts. So I've updated my Post to include this audio file. 

This issue ties in with our upcoming show on September 29th. Where we will focus on childhood hunger in our community.

Up Next (September 29th)

Many THANKS again to Mike Halligan, Executive Director of God's Pantry Food Bank. And Malcolm Ratchford, Executive Director of Community Action Council!

Please tune in to our next show on September 29th, 10 - 11 am, 93.9 FM WLXU Lexington Community Radio.

We will focus on childhood hunger. Our guests will be Katie Landon, Youth Services & Nutrition Manager, God’s Pantry of God's Pantry. And Debraun Thomas who is a Community Activist. As we know, food has a very crucial role in many social justice movements. And one of the most well-known is the Free Breakfast Program offered in public schools across the US. This program was created by the Black Panthers in 1969. So Debraun is going to provide us with this historical perspective.

Please join us for another compelling conversation!