Farms to Food Banks program seeks Ky. farmers’ ‘ugly’ produce

BEREA, Ky. (June 16, 2015) – Kentucky farmers have an opportunity to recover losses for their unmarketable produce this growing season while helping their neighbors in need. Through the Farm to Food Banks program, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks pays farmers just below wholesale prices for produce that would not otherwise be sold because of cosmetic imperfections.

“It might be a zucchini that is fatter on one end than the other or a tomato that is smaller than standard grocery store packaging” said Angie Allman, program coordinator. “We help cover a farmer’s costs of harvesting, packaging and delivering to food banks produce that would otherwise go to waste in the field.”

The produce is distributed to low-income Kentuckians across the state through the food bank network. The Association connects farmers with either a regional food bank distribution center or a local food pantry, depending on the amount of produce available.

In 2014, the Farms to Food Banks program benefitted struggling families in all 120 Kentucky counties by distributing enough produce to fill half a plate full of fruits and vegetables for 4.8 million meals. The produce came from 370 Kentucky farmers in 66 counties who received an average payment of $1,450 for the produce they provided. Ten Kentucky farmers received over $10,000 in 2014.

The need for food assistance remains high in Kentucky. One in six Kentuckians is food insecure, which means they lack consistent access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life, according to data from Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

“The Hunger in Kentucky 2014 report found that 91 percent of food bank clients in Kentucky resorted to purchasing inexpensive but unhealthy food as a coping strategy to feed their family,” said Tamara Sandberg, Executive Director of the Association. “The Farms to Food Banks program helps put healthy food on the tables of our most vulnerable neighbors, which should pay off for the commonwealth in the long run in terms of reduced health care costs.”

Thanks to an appropriation from the Kentucky General Assembly, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will provide a $600,000 grant for the program this summer. Kentucky taxpayers also supported the program through donations made via their 2014 income tax return. Other private funders include Farm Credit Mid-America, S.L. Gimbel Foundation Advised Fund, Grainger Foundation, E.O. Robinson Mountain Fund, Team Food Chain and Yum! Brands Foundation.

Information is available at kafb.org/farmstofoodbanks or (606) 256-0040.

 

The Kentucky Association of Food Banks is Kentucky’s largest charitable response to hunger, representing Kentucky’s 7 regional Feeding America food banks (Dare to Care Food Bank; Facing Hunger Foodbank; Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland; Freestore Foodbank; God’s Pantry Food Bank; Purchase Area Development District; and Tri-State Food Bank) and over 800 member charities including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. In SFY 2014 its members distributed the equivalent of 50 million meals to 1 in 7 Kentuckians across the commonwealth.