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Governor Bevin, Commissioner Quarles, other elected officials encourage Kentuckians to help solve hunger

 

Kentucky Association of Food Banks, Kentucky Agricultural News

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, Attorney General Andy Beshear, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and several state lawmakers spent the afternoon at the Capitol Rotunda Thursday rallying Kentuckians to join the fight against hunger.

According to the USDA, one in six Kentuckians is food-insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle.

Commissioner Quarles announced that he will launch a commission on hunger within the Kentucky Department of Agriculture later this month. "We're going to have a substantial conversation about hunger in Kentucky that brings in an inclusive group of individuals from our food banks, from our churches, from our nonprofits and charitable organizations, to help address an issue that affects far too many Kentuckians."

 

Commissioner Quarles encouraged Kentucky taxpayers to “check the box” for hunger relief. 2015 marks the second year that Kentucky state income taxpayers can donate a portion of their refund to the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund. Administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the fund provides grants to nonprofits for the distribution of Kentucky-grown surplus agricultural commodities to low-income individuals.

 

“As Kentucky’s 50th attorney general, my focus will be on strengthening Kentucky families and protecting children from abuse and neglect,” Andy Beshear said. “I am committed to do whatever is in my power to make sure all of our children’s most essential needs are met. Access to healthy meals is a fundamental building block to ensuring our Kentucky children have a chance to thrive. In the coming year, my office will be working with the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to explore ways in which all Kentucky lawyers and voluntary bar associations can take action to help reduce hunger in the Commonwealth.”

"An astounding 22 percent — nearly one in four children — doesn’t always know where his or her next meal will come from in Kentucky,” Secretary of State Grimes said. “Donating a portion of their tax refund is an opportunity for Kentuckians to help ensure their most vulnerable neighbors have enough healthy food to eat.”

The Kentucky Association of Food Banks’ Farms to Food Banks program helps farmers recoup
losses for product that otherwise would not be sold because of cosmetic imperfections or overproduction. The produce is distributed to hungry Kentuckians throughout the state through the food bank network. It is fresh, healthy food that otherwise would go to waste.

In 2015, 300 Kentucky farmers from 57 counties were paid an average of $1,530 for the produce they provided. A total of 2.6 million pounds of Kentucky-grown fruits and vegetables were distributed to struggling Kentuckians in all 120 counties rather than going to waste in the field. That is the equivalent of filling half a plate full of fruits and vegetables for 3.9 million meals.

State income taxpayers donated $30,255 to the fund in 2015.

“The $30,255 grant from the tax check-off donations allowed us to fill half a plate full of fruits and vegetables for over 210,000 meals during last year’s growing season,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. “Our goal for 2016 is $40,000 in donations, which would provide enough produce for 280,000 meals.”

To raise awareness of the need among low-income Kentuckians and the opportunity to give to the trust fund, Governor Matt Bevin has proclaimed January as Farms to Food Banks Month in Kentucky.

For more information, go to www.kafb.org.