Originally published in Hancock Clarion
May 2022, Wade Gaynor

As summer break starts, most students may look forward to swimming, spending time playing outdoors in the warm sun, staying up past bedtime or sleeping in later than usual. However, having more than eight consecutive weeks at home instead of in a local school building brings a need to the surface.

The academic year, in addition to learning, also provides guaranteed breakfast and lunch for students who may be food insecure. Nutritious and consistent meals may become a struggle in many homes outside of the educational calendar.

Fortunately, Independence Bank has found paths to help put food in front of those who need it most.

A partnership spanned several years with the Family Resource Center at Hancock County Schools. This division is designed to enhance students’ abilities to succeed in school and provide school-based family support through programs and partnerships.

Its mission remains to reduce and remove non-academic barriers to learning as a means to enhance students’ academic success. Studies show, according to Feed America, that children from homes that lack consistent access to food are more likely to experience developmental impairments in areas like language, motor skills and behavior.

Although a county-wide summer feeding program has pivoted to be now be run through the Hancock County Library, the purpose will continue to receive Bank support.

Efforts are not only limited to local students, but also the elderly.

New numbers released by Feeding America estimates that in 2021, 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6) may experience food insecurity.

In early May, more than two dozen low-income residents in Hancock County were delivered two weeks’ worth of food. That number is much larger across the region. Combining efforts in Daviess, Henderson, Webster and McLean Counties, 400 people were reached.
This outreach is because of Feed Seniors Now which began in 2011—an important initiative that helps identify and make an impact on at-risk individuals.

The Green River Area Development District partnered with Independence Bank and Comfort Keepers to collect and distribute food to older adults in that footprint. Specialty Food Group (Kentucky Legend) and Tyson also donated meats. An additional element of excitement involved a fast-paced friendly competition incorporating carts.

Local high school seniors from this region raced against the clock to sweep through a grocery store and collect as many shelf-stable food items as possible. When the buzzer sounded, Independence Bank agreed to purchase and donate all collected items to the drive. Food item donations (such as canned goods, peanut butter, pasta and cereal) were accepted until the end of April at the GRADD office and Independence Bank locations. Checks or cash donations were also accepted at Bank locations. One hundred percent of proceeds benefited the food drive.

Nearly 4,000 food deliveries have been made throughout the duration of this program. Preliminary planning conversations continue on how to elevate this event next year.

In the meantime, anyone who may be inclined to help make an impact should make plans to attend the Independence Bank Sorghum Festival scheduled for this fall. Attendance is free but non-perishable food items are collected annually to allocate appropriately.

Regardless if a person is elderly or receiving an education, our end goal is to make sure no one returns home to an empty cupboard.