Kentucky Department of Agriculture secures grant to assist Kentucky food pantries

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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. – The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has secured a grant that will fund the purchase of 56 freezers and refrigerators to be distributed to food pantries around Kentucky.

“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,” Commissioner 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.”

The KDA purchased 32 chest freezers and 24 standard refrigerators with top freezers with $25,000 from The Emergency Food Assistance Program. This action is a part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative, which was launched in 2016 by Commissioner Quarles in an effort to reduce hunger in Kentucky by coordinating efforts of farmers, charitable organizations, churches and faith groups, local community residents and leaders, and government entities.

“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 counties by partnering with over 800 local food pantries and shelters. An estimated 1 in 7 Kentuckians has received assistance through this organization. 72 million meals were supplied in 2019 through member distributions of 86 million pounds of food and grocery products.

You can learn more about the Kentucky Hunger Initiative here.