FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – In this season of giving, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles encourages Kentuckians to remember Kentucky food banks and their partners.
“In Kentucky, there are nearly 700,000 Kentuckians, including nearly 200,000 children, who struggle with hunger,” Quarles said. “That means one in seven adults and one in five children in Kentucky lack access to enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle. If you’re able, now may be the perfect time to think about donating to a local food bank.”
This year’s coronavirus pandemic has created an even greater need for food banks and the agencies that support them, as many Kentuckians have found themselves out of work and struggling financially.
By either donating money or volunteering time, Kentuckians can make a difference to those struggling to provide food for their tables.
In addition to money and volunteers, many food banks also rely on food donations from retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, processors, growers, trucking companies and community food drives.
In the spirit of giving aid to those in need, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture provided grants in April for refrigerators and freezers to 25 Kentucky food pantries across the state. The cold storage grants enabled food pantries to store more fresh Kentucky-grown produce donated from Kentucky farmers through the Farm to Food Banks program as well as meat, eggs and other frozen and cold-storage products.
The grants were provided by the Department’s Hunger Initiative. The program was launched three years ago as a way to fight food insecurity in Kentucky. A first-of-its-kind effort in Kentucky, the Hunger Initiative brings together farmers, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders, and government to look for ways to reduce hunger in Kentucky.
In addition to the those grants, in October, the KDA worked to provide even more resources for Kentucky food banks by launching the Kentucky Cheese Cares, which lets consumers join the fight against hunger by purchasing award-winning Kentucky specialty cheese products at participating Kroger locations.
Kroger stepped in as a key operational partner as the state’s largest purchaser of Kentucky Proud products. Kentucky Cheese Cares artisan cheeses can be found in select Kroger stores in Lexington, Louisville, Frankfort, Elizabethtown, and Richmond.
Fifty cents from each unit sold is used to distribute Kentucky dairy products through the Feeding Kentucky food bank network.
“At Kroger, we Live Our Purpose, to Feed the Human Spirit, in big and small ways through our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan. This is our commitment to help create Communities free of hunger and waste. I am so proud to be able to offer this incredible product to our Kroger customers that allows them to have an easy and local way to give back to their communities by simply buying great food at Kroger,” said Ann Reed, President of the Kroger Louisville Division. “The 50 cents that is donated from the sale of each unit provides much needed funding to Feeding Kentucky and further moves our commitment to ending hunger in our communities.”
The new initiative increases access to dairy products for food-insecure families, with the added benefit of supporting Kentucky dairy farmers. The Dairy Alliance also provided key support for the project by purchasing the cooler units.
“We are honored to partner with these organizations to help nourish those in need,” said Geri Berdak, chief executive officer of The Dairy Alliance. “Dairy farm families care passionately about helping their communities and are honored to give back to their neighbors through the Kentucky Cheese Cares program. We encourage Kentuckians to join the fight against hunger by buying or gifting cheese this holiday season.”
The standalone coolers can be found in 10 Kroger stores across the state.
To find out more about the Kentucky Cheese Cares program visit feedingky.org/programs/cheese.