Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles brought a little hope to Eastern Kentucky’s less fortunate on Monday when he helped deliver freezers donated by Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank to food pantries in five counties.
“Thanks to the generosity of these agricultural lenders, food pantries throughout the Commonwealth will be able to accept donations of meats and other frozen foods,” Commissioner Quarles said. “This will enable the food pantries to help their clients get the proteins they need for a healthy, balanced diet. This is a giant step in the mission of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative to seek solutions to chronic food insecurity in Kentucky.”
“The gift from Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank thanks to Commissioner Quarles’ Hunger Initiative will substantially increase the ability of Kentucky’s food bank network to distribute donated agricultural products,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. “We are grateful for this investment in the fight against hunger in Kentucky.”
“As organizations dedicated to supporting agriculture, we believe it’s important to make the hard work of farmers more visible to the people who benefit,” said Mark Barker, senior vice president of Farm Credit Mid-America. “We appreciate the opportunity to join in the Hunger Initiative and are pleased to donate freezers to food pantries across the state so that they can accept and store more frozen protein raised by Kentucky farmers.”
Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank recently announced that they would provide more than 120 chest freezers for Kentucky food pantries. The rollout on Monday started with a joint news conference of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks in Winchester and continued with deliveries to food pantries in Mount Vernon, Somerset, London, Corbin, and Manchester.
The Hunger Initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort in Kentucky that Commissioner Quarles launched in the spring of 2016 to bring together farmers, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders, and government entities to look for ways to reduce hunger in Kentucky. During a fact-finding tour of the state in the summer of 2016, Commissioner Quarles found that many food pantries lacked the cold storage they needed to accept meats from local farmers.
Map the Meal Gap 2017, an annual study by Feeding America, revealed that one in every six Kentuckians – including one in five children – was food insecure in 2015, meaning that consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.
For more information about the Hunger Initiative and the Hunger Task Force, go to kyagr.com/hunger.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, second from right, joined Mike Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank of Lexington, third from left, and Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, center, to deliver a chest freezer to the New Salem Baptist Church Food Pantry in London on Monday. Also pictured are, from left: Craig and Katina Singleton; Mike Waldroff; Greg Deaton, senior pastor of New Salem Baptist Church; Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield; and Diane Hampton. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo)