State program in ninth year works to reduce food waste by involving farmers
As the 2019 growing season in Kentucky kicks off, the ninth annual Farms to Food Banks program is as well. Feeding Kentucky, formerly known as the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, is calling all Kentucky farmers to participate. The program works to reduce food waste by rescuing cosmetically blemished produce and distributing it to Kentuckians at risk of hunger. It covers a farmer’s cost of picking, packing, and transporting produce from the field to a regional food bank in Kentucky.
“This program is vitally important to serving our food insecure clients. Most clients don’t have the financial resources to purchase healthy food options, so this is an excellent program to help fill that void.” said Jamie Sizemore, Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH) Executive Director.
Last year, 14 farmers in our 34-county service area participated in the program – helping our organization distribute 711,324 pounds of fresh foods.
“The Farms to Food Banks program is a great example of Kentucky’s agricultural community at its finest,” said Feeding Kentucky Programs Coordinator Sarah Vaughn. “Farmers tell us they hate to see anything go to waste. The program helps ensure farmers are able to donate rather than plow under their unmarketable produce. And the families we serve are always thrilled to receive great local produce.”
The statewide produce recovery initiative has grown significantly thanks to support from the Kentucky’s General Assembly and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, private funders such as Lift a Life Foundation and Farm Credit Mid-America, and donations from individuals. In 2011, just over 140,000 pounds were distributed; the goal for 2019 is three million pounds. In the eight years of program implementation, enough Kentucky-grown produce has been distributed to fill half a plate full for over 30 million meals.
Kentucky was one of the first states to implement a Farms to Food Banks initiative, and Kentucky’s program was presented as a model for the federal government to consider. The recently enacted Farm Bill includes funding for a federal Farms to Food Banks program for the first time.
The Farms to Food Banks program is administered by Feeding Kentucky, which works to end hunger for the one in six Kentuckians, including 200,000 children, who do not always know where their next meal will come from. Feeding Kentucky’s seven member Feeding America food banks, including Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, support 800 local charitable partner agencies, which provide nutritious food directly to more than 600,000 individuals and families in need to ensure a hunger-free Kentucky. Last year the network distributed the equivalent of 64 million meals across Kentucky.
Interested Kentucky farmers should contact Feeding Kentucky at 859-986-7422 or a firstname.lastname@example.org.