Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner launches new anti-hunger effort
Ryan Quarles hopes to coordinate various efforts into one statewide plan.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One in six Kentuckians is what's called "food insecure." They often don't know where their next meal is coming from.
Now, Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, Ryan Quarles, has launched a new program to fight the state's hunger problem.
The idea is to get more food from the farm to the table and reduce hunger in Kentucky.
David Neville has been a farmer most of his life, and he is well aware of that not everyone has access to the cattle and crops he produces.
“It's just a shame that we have such an abundance of food in this country, but especially in Kentucky, and we still have hungry kids and hungry seniors and hungry adults at the same time,” Neville said.
That's why Neville has agreed to be part of Quarles’ new anti-hunger effort.
“My hope would be that, five or 10 years from now, we would substantially impact the hunger in Kentucky,” Neville said.
Quarles says it's a first-of-its-kind effort. He has formed a task force of farmers, grocers, food banks and others to coordinate their efforts.
“We hope to build upon the expertise of those who are experts in their fields with facing hunger about starting a conversation and hopefully developing a strategic plan for Kentucky,” he said.
The state's food banks are strained by the increased demand from the so-called working poor, who don't qualify for federal programs.
They hope this initiative can be a turning point.
“The fact that Commissioner Quarles has taken this on as one of his initiatives ... we've already seen an increased amount of attention and interest in this issue. So we're thrilled and very hopeful what the future holds,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks.
The group will travel across the state to see what works.
“The needs for urban areas ... we expect to be vastly different from needs of rural areas,” Quarles said.
Neville says farmers want to be part of the solution.
“We would like to move those products that normally don't have any home onto the plate of a hungry person,” he said.
The task force will meet through the end of this year, and then develop a comprehensive plan to get healthy food on more family tables in Kentucky.
More information about the Kentucky Hunger Initiative is available here.
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