Kentucky Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Bluegrass State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.  

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1) Kentucky has the fourth lowest per capita income in the United States. The average income per capita in the United States in 2009 was $26,209. Why is the income per capita so much lower ($21,803) in Kentucky?
2) Kentucky has some of the highest poverty rates in the country. 18.6% of its population lives in poverty, which includes 22.4% of its children and 10.3% of seniors. The percentage of the population living in extreme poverty is the 3rd highest in the nation. What is being done to address the serious problem of poverty in the state? Who is involved?
3) Even though food and prescription drugs are exempt from general state sales tax, the 6% tax applies to non-prescription medicine. Why is that? Is any effort being made to exempt non-prescription medicine from sales tax?
4) Kentucky has a high school completion rate that is about 10% below the national average of 85%. What is being done to insure that more children stay in school and earn their diplomas? Have any of these efforts been successful?
5) There is no state EITC program.  Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to introduce one?
6) Kentucky does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
7) 24.3% of jobs pay below the federal poverty line; this is above the national average of 22.2%.  Is there any effort to raise the minimum wage or introduce a living wage?
8) Kentucky has the highest rate of households served by LIHEAP, yet does not have a state LIHEAP.  Is there any effort being made to introduce a state LIHEAP?
9) Only 15% of families living below the federal poverty line receive TANF and there is no minimum heating benefit. Are there any plans to increase participation in TANF or instill a minimum benefit?
10) Kentucky has a very high participation rate for the SNAP Program among those eligible. Are there any special features of the program in your state that might account for this above average performance?
11) 31.5% of the population is obese. This is the 4th highest rate in the country. What is being done to combat this epidemic?
12) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected].  

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.