By Jim Crowley, Chair of Church in the World
Highlands Community Ministries (HCM) serves residents of zip codes 40204 and 40205 and is a member of the Association of Community Ministries. Supported in part by 24 local churches, including HPC, they deliver a variety of programs to our neighbors including: Individual and Family Assistance Programs (15% funded by local churches and 35% by metro-government), Adult Day Care and Health Center services, Senior Services, Children’s Day Care. HCM’s 2014 expenses were $3.14M.
HCM is the second largest recipient of our benevolences, behind the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and in 2015 the Session approved giving HCM $22,000 (unchanged from the previous year). Highland Pres also collaborates with HCM in a
number of areas in addition to the annual Thanksgiving Basket food drives and the Angel Tree initiatives and many individuals who come to the church seeking assistance are directed to HCM. While many other community ministry programs throughout Louisville have disappeared in recent years, HCM continues to survive and thrive and that perhaps may be due to the ongoing commitment of HPC and other local churches.
Hunger remains a serious issue nationally and right here in Jefferson county and our own neighborhood. Based on a 2013 report by Feeding America, 17.2% of people living in Jefferson County (128,380) were considered “food insecure”. This compares to 15.8% nationally and 16.4% for the state of Kentucky. Feeding America defines “food insecurity” as the “[a] measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.” While poverty and food insecurity are highly correlated, research has also shown that unemployment, rather than just poverty level, is a better predictor of food scarcity.
Dare-to-Care is the local Feeding America affiliate in Louisville and runs the Portland Avenue Community Trust food bank and to which HPC is a regular contributor. Dare-to-Care provides further statistics around hunger and food scarcity in our immediate community. Of those seeking assistance through community food banks:
- 75% live in poverty
- 35% were employed during part of the last year
- 65% of households have a member with high blood pressure
- 41% of households have a member with diabetes
- 64% of households have unpaid medical bills
- 91% purchased inexpensive unhealthy food in order to feed their family Not surprisingly, this same population tends to have health issues that can be associated with limited access to enough and high quality food
Is there more Highland can be doing? Are their new ways Highland can be involved? Let your Church in the World Committee know if you have suggestions.