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Task force begins discussion on combating hunger in Kentucky

Panel includes leaders in agriculture, government, business, charities, faith groups

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (June 2, 2016) -- The Kentucky Hunger Task Force began its search for innovative solutions to reduce food insecurity in the Commonwealth during its first meeting Thursday at Gallrein Farms in Shelby County. The Hunger Task Force is a product of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's first-ever Hunger Initiative.

"The members of the task force will bring a vast array of expertise and experiences to apply to this critical issue," Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. "This isn't a rural or urban problem, or even a regional problem. This is a problem for all of Kentucky. I'm grateful to everyone on the task force for committing their time and effort to the cause of helping Kentucky's most vulnerable citizens."

"Individuals, charities, businesses, and government all have a role to play in addressing hunger," said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. "The Hunger Initiative will provide the opportunity for key stakeholders to work together to identify gaps and direct resources to fill those gaps. Together, we can help solve hunger in Kentucky."

Members of the task force include:

  • Laura Melillo Barnum, executive director of YUM! Foundation and Global Community Investment, YUM! Brands
  • David Beck, executive vice president, Kentucky Farm Bureau
  • Warren Beeler, executive director, Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy
  • Rodney Booe, pastor, Campbellsville Christian Church
  • Danielle Bozarth, programs director, God's Pantry Food Bank
  • Tony Brannon, dean, Hutson School of Agriculture, Murray State University
  • Gina Carrington, assistant director of Community Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
  • Spencer Coates, president, Houchens Industries
  • Mary Courtney, Shelby County farmer
  • Nancy Cox, dean, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Valerie Crouch, program manager for school and community nutrition, Kentucky Department of Education
  • David Dodd, executive director, National Center for Hospitality Studies, Sullivan University
  • Thomas Fern, Kentucky state director, USDA Rural Development
  • Jamie Guffey, executive director, Kentucky Poultry Federation
  • Bonnie Jolly, executive director, Kentucky Pork Producers
  • David Maples, executive vice president, Kentucky Cattlemen's Association
  • Ted Mason, executive director, Kentucky Grocers Association
  • Tim McGurk, director of public affairs, Kroger Louisville Division
  • Ryan Quarles, Kentucky commissioner of agriculture
  • Martin Richards, executive director, Community Farm Alliance
  • Brian Riendeau, executive director, Dare to Care
  • Tamara Sandberg, executive director, Kentucky Association of Food Banks
  • Suzanne Cecil White, Daviess County farmer
  • Stephanie Wooten, executive director, GLEAN KY

Map the Meal Gap, an annual study by Feeding America, revealed that 17 percent of Kentucky's population - 1 in 6 - was food insecure in 2014, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

The Hunger Task Force is part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Hunger Initiative, a first-of-its-kind effort to alleviate food insecurity in Kentucky. The objectives of the Hunger Task Force will be to study the sources of hunger, identify the unique issues that affect different regions of the Commonwealth, and take an inventory of resources that can be brought to bear against the hunger problem in Kentucky.

The task force will hold a series of regional meetings throughout the state to hear from volunteers fighting hunger at the local level. Specific times and locations of the meetings will be announced at a later date.

For more information about the Hunger Task Force and the Hunger Initiative, go to kyagr.com/hunger.

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