Freezers will help food pantries fight hunger

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Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles, left, and God's Pantry CEO Mike Halligan deliver a freezer to a food bank in central Kentucky in 2017 as part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative/Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fifty-two Kentucky food pantries will soon have more space to store food items, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant secured by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“Thanks to the hard work of our Division of Food Distribution and Kevin Peach applying for the grant, we were able to fund the purchase of 56 appliances to keep food fresh during the pandemic,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “The freezers and refrigerators are helping food pantries preserve donations of perishable items such as eggs, meat, and milk so they can be distributed to food insecure Kentuckians at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has cost many their jobs, worsening our existing hunger problem.”

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The KDA used $25,000 from The Emergency Food Assistance Program to purchase 32 chest freezers and 24 standard refrigerators with top freezers that are being delivered to food pantries across the state.

The action is the latest in a series of steps the Department of Agriculture has taken as part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative, launched in 2016 by Commissioner Quarles to bring together farmers, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders, and government entities to reduce hunger in Kentucky.

“The increased cold storage capacity among the food bank network thanks to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture could not have come at a better time,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of Feeding Kentucky. “The coolers and freezers will enable food pantries to safely distribute more donated Kentucky agricultural products such as milk, beef, pork, and poultry to our struggling neighbors. We are grateful to Commissioner Quarles and his team for making this possible.”

Feeding Kentucky’s seven member food banks serve all 120 Kentucky counties in partnership with a network of over 800 local food pantries and shelters. The organization reaches an estimated 1 in 7 of all Kentuckians each year. Last year, members distributed 86 million pounds of food and grocery products, which was enough to supply 72 million meals for those in need.