A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Two agricultural lenders donate chest freezers to more than 120 food pantries across Kentucky

In every Kentucky community, urban and rural, there’s a food insecurity problem. One in six Kentuckians is not always sure where their next meal is coming from. For children, the number is one in five. To help solve this challenge, agricultural lenders Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank are providing chest freezers to more than 120 food pantries across the state.

The freezers will enable increased donation and distribution of Kentucky-raised beef, pork and poultry as part of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles’ Hunger Initiative.

“I’m fortunate to represent a state that is blessed with an abundance of food,” said Commissioner Quarles. “The best way to address hunger is to build stronger bridges between our farmers and our community of hunger relief organizations.”

One year ago, Commissioner Quarles launched the Kentucky Hunger Initiative, an innovative program that works to identify food solutions for Kentuckians who need it most. Working with the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB), the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Hunger Initiative represents a collaboration of farmers, educators, restaurateurs, food distributors and chefs.

One of the snags that the Hunger Initiative and the food banks encountered was the lack of cold storage at food pantries for food requiring refrigeration.

“Our organization works hard to provide healthy food to citizens throughout Kentucky,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the KAFB. “When we have generous farmers and commodity organizations willing to help, it’s unacceptable to say, ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t accept your donation of protein because we don’t have the ability to store it safety until it can be distributed.’”

“I’m grateful to Farm Credit and CoBank for recognizing this need and investing in this agricultural program,” Quarles said. “We’re really just getting started in the fight against hunger in the state, but they are helping us move the needle.”

“Farm Credit has been a long-time supporter of our Farms to Food Banks program, a program that directs fresh produce to food banks, and has been a wonderful partner in the fight against hunger in Kentucky,” said Sandberg. “This additional gift is an example of the private sector working with the public sector to make a measureable and meaningful impact in the communities they serve.”

Farm Credit Mid-America Senior Vice President Mark Barker said the donation aligns with Farm Credit’s and CoBank’s purpose of securing the future of rural communities and agriculture by investing in the communities where they and their customers live and work.

“As agricultural financial services cooperatives, providing the financial resources for farmers to produce healthy and nutritious food ultimately helps achieve our purpose,” he said. “Both our organizations are proud to support Kentucky farmers and their generosity.”

“Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are literally feeding the world, yet there are still children in our communities who go hungry,” said Derrick Waggoner, regional vice president for CoBank. “The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the state’s producers are committed to changing that, and both CoBank and Farm Credit Mid-America are committed to helping.”

From Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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