ASHLAND, Ky. – Kentucky Power is postponing Power Up the Pantry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The community event scheduled for April 3 will take place later this year. A new date has not been scheduled because of the uncertainty surrounding the current health emergency.
Power Up the Pantry was first launched in 2019 to replenish depleted area food pantries. Kentucky Power partnered with WYMT and local businesses to have the most community impact. The inaugural event collected a one-day near record 7.5 tons of food and more than $17,000 in monetary donations, enough for about 152,000 meals.
When a new date for 2020 is scheduled, donations will benefit God’s Pantry Food Bank and the food pantries it serves in eastern Kentucky. In the greater Ashland area, community agencies served by Facing Hunger Food Bank will benefit. Community partners include Anthem Medicaid, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, the City of Hazard, the City of Prestonsburg, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Hazard Community and Technical College, God’s Pantry Food Bank, New Hope Church, and WYMT. Last year, even schoolchildren participated with schools competing to collect the most goods. This year, collections sites in Pikeville and Ashland have been added to those in Hazard and Prestonsburg. Facing Hunger Food Bank also was added as a partner agency.
“With the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, we want to do our part to keep our customers and employees healthy and slow the spread of the virus,” said Cindy Wiseman, Kentucky Power’s vice president of external affairs and customer service. “When we are able to reschedule Power Up the Pantry, the food pantries serving eastern Kentucky communities will likely be in greater need of goods. The pandemic is coming at a time of year when food pantries historically have more requests and often face critical shortages of food and supplies. The pandemic likely will put more strain on limited resources."
When it is safe to do so, Kentucky Power and its partners will encourage area businesses to participate in the event.
“An easy way for businesses to participate when the time is right is to put up collection barrels for employees or customers to make donations of non-perishable food, baby supplies, including diapers, and then deliver the goods to one of the collection sites on the day of the event,” Wiseman said. “Money also is always welcome. Businesses and individuals can make charitable contributions to the cause. Checks can be made payable to God’s Pantry Food Bank or Facing Hunger Food Bank."
One in six residents in Kentucky struggles with hunger and are unsure where their next meal will come from, according to God’s Pantry Executive Director Michael Halligan.
Last fiscal year, God’s Pantry supplied 34.5 million pounds of food and 13.6 million pounds of fresh produce to more than 400 food pantries and meal programs in central and eastern Kentucky. The Prestonsburg warehouse serves Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Lawrence, Magoffin, Letcher and Martin counties. The warehouse stores orders until local agencies can pick them up for distribution and also has fresh produce delivered for agencies to access. God’s Pantry also operates a warehouse in London that serves Perry and other southeastern Kentucky counties. Facing Hunger, based in Huntington, West Virginia, serves food pantries in Boyd, Greenup, Lawrence and Martin counties.
“Ending hunger does not happen at a food bank,” Halligan said. “It takes communities working together in partnership like this to have an impact. We appreciate the support and focus Power Up the Pantry will generate and look forward to seeing the difference it will make in eastern Kentucky for those in need.”
Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Ashland, provides service to about 165,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties and is an operating company in the American Electric Power system, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States.