A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State legislators rally Kentuckians to help fight hunger as part of ‘Hunger Free Kentucky Day’

Suzanne Potter
Public News Service

Today is the sixth annual “Hunger Free Kentucky Day,” when state leaders rally the public to fight hunger. Research says one in six people and one in five kids in the Bluegrass State are considered food insecure – that means about 700,000 Kentuckians, including 200,000 children, don’t consistently have enough food for a healthy lifestyle.

Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the nonprofit Feeding Kentucky, says the problem of hunger is hidden but widespread across the state.

Farmers sent 3 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to the Farms to Food Banks program in 2018. (Photo from Feeding Kentucky)

“So, it could be the child sitting next to your child in class, who hadn’t had anything to eat since school lunch was served yesterday,” says Sandberg. “It could be the person next to you in line at the grocery store, who her husband just had a car accident and so, they’re needing help putting food on the table.”

One way to help is to contribute to the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund, which buys farmers’ excess fruits and vegetables and delivers them to food-bank locations.

You can donate a portion of your tax refund by checking a box on your state income-tax form. Last year, Kentuckians donated $19,000; this year’s goal is $25,000.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the Kentucky Legislature kicks in $500,000 a year, but every donation means more families get fed.

“We encourage Kentuckians to ‘check off hunger’ by checking the box on their state income-tax forms to contribute to the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund,” says Quarles. “That gives us a little more resources to help buy food that would otherwise rot in the fields, and give it to those in need.”

Today, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear also announced the third annual Legal Food Frenzy – a competition between his office, the Secretary of State’s office and others in the legal community to raise money for food banks. It runs March 11 through 18.

“The Legal Food Frenzy is designed to support food banks at the time when they need help the most,” says Beshear. “Right when our students get out of schools, where they are guaranteed two or even three meals a day. And it prevents them from then going hungry in the summer.”

The campaign’s goal is $100,000. To raise awareness even further, Governor Matt Bevin has proclaimed February as “Hunger Free Kentucky Month.”

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