Shirley Sweatt is raising her four grandchildren ages 7, 13, 16 and 17.
“The 13- and 16-year-olds are boys,” she said. “They eat a lot.”
To feed her hungry brood, the Bowling Green woman depends on organizations such as Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.
“I couldn’t feed them. I’m on Social Security,” she said. “I just found out about it.”
Sweatt was at the senior box section for ages 60 and up at Feeding America’s monthly food distribution Wednesday at the Southern Kentucky Fairgrounds at Lampkin Park. Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, is a regional food bank that services 42 Kentucky counties. The distribution in Warren County is from 8 a.m. to noon the last Wednesday of each month.
When the crew from Feeding America got to Lampkin Park at 7:30 a.m., the cars were lined up to near Morgantown Road, said Milissa French, director of agency services and programs for Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.
“They beat our trucks here,” she said. “They always do.”
“According to Feeding America statistics, we’re underserving Warren County,” she said. “Only three counties are underserved: Warren, Calloway and Christian.”
Part of the reason Warren County is underserved is because of transportation issues, French said.
“Ordinarily we have two people with grocery carts,” she said. “We had one with a motorized wheelchair. She was hoping she had enough power to make it home.”
French said 110 of the 400 households served were seniors age 60 and up.
They have to show proof of age, income and residency before being put on a list. They have to renew once a year.
French wants to see more people involved in helping get the boxes out to those in need.
“We’re looking for an organization that will coordinate the program here – putting up exit signs, packaging food, loading people’s cars, directing traffic. It takes a small village to orchestrate all this. We need at least 20 volunteers. The truck drivers will deliver the food no matter what,” she said. “It takes half our staff. It means we lose a day’s work. With our normal duties it’s a lot.”
Steve Henderson, a member of the Bowling Green-Warren County Jaycees, comes out early to make sure signs are up and people are driving in the right direction, French said. Then they take it from there.
“The Jaycees have been a good supporter of ours,” she said. “If you want to see what the operation is, look me up. You can decide if it’s something you want to be involved with.”
Jason Bates had gone to the wrong station to get his food box. The Bowling Green man said he has been getting food boxes his whole life.
“I’m 38 years old,” he said. “It has different things.”
Georgianne Lappin of Bowling Green didn’t know about Feeding America before, but she believed it would be just what she needed.
“I was driving down there and stopped and asked about it. They said the senior program was here,” she said. “Since I only get $16 a month in food stamps it will add extra food.”
– For more information or to volunteer, call French at 877-532-2767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.