Senator McConnell Praises Work of Lexington-Based God’s Pantry Food Bank during Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced Michael Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Kentucky, at a hearing today before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. Senator McConnell invited Halligan to testify before the committee about childhood nutrition and the work of God’s Pantry Food Bank to help feed children in Kentucky. “Mike’s successful track record of helping Kentuckians will bring a valuable perspective, and I’m confident this Committee will benefit from his testimony today,” said Senator McConnell.
God’s Pantry Food Bank has been serving Kentuckians in need since 1955. Today, it operates in 50 counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky. It represents one part of a nationwide system of organizations working to create a hunger-free America. Halligan joined God’s Pantry Food Bank in 2017 after more than 30 years in senior positions throughout the food and grocery industries. With its affiliates and partners, including Kentucky Department of Agriculture under the leadership of Commissioner Ryan Quarles, God’s Pantry Food Bank distributed more than 34 million pounds of food in the last fiscal year to those in need in the Bluegrass State.
In Kentucky, which has many diverse regions and communities that can pose a serious logistical challenge, helping get the needed food to children in Lexington is quite different from helping kids in the mountains of Appalachia. However, God’s Pantry Food Bank along with other food banks across the Commonwealth manage to do both. Instead of a one-size-fits-all federal program, Halligan and his team need the flexibility to reach children wherever they can do the most good. Right now, federal restrictions limit his ability to send kids home from school with food over the weekends. In addition, not every child is able to find transportation to get meals during the summer months when school buses are not running.
“The heartbreaking fact is one in five Kentucky children experience food insecurity. Worse still, these kids are also more likely to suffer chronic health and developmental issues throughout their lives as a result. Youngsters should be able to concentrate on school and on learning the skills they need to succeed. They shouldn’t have to worry about where they’ll find their next meal,” said Senator McConnell. “At God’s Pantry Food Bank, Mike and his team address this problem head-on. Through programs at schools, libraries, and churches, his organization works hard to ensure children have year-round access to nutritious meals. For example, to fill in for the absence of school lunches during the summer months, God’s Pantry Food Bank goes into many Kentucky communities to deliver meals and snacks free of charge. As we consider the reauthorization of federal child nutrition programs, I hope we can address the challenges facing these programs to ensure that red tape isn’t getting in the way of serving those who need our help.”
“I want to thank Senator McConnell for inviting me to attend today’s hearing and for his interest in helping address childhood nutrition in Kentucky. My intent is to share insights about the role God’s Pantry Food Bank and other food banks play while addressing childhood hunger in communities through innovative public-private partnerships,” said Halligan. “Making real progress toward ending child food insecurity and ensuring opportunity for all of our nation’s children will require investing new resources toward increasing access, particularly during times when children are out of school like summer. Simply making small incremental change is not enough. I encourage The Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to advance recommendations to strengthen child nutrition programs in reauthorization helping to end hunger in this country.”
Senator McConnell is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry and has served on the panel throughout his entire time in the Senate, making him a key negotiator on legislation impacting Kentucky’s farm families and rural communities.