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Hunger Initiative program working to address Kentucky hunger issues

One in six Kentuckians are "food insecure" according to Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. The problem of hunger is not a partisan issue. Quarles was in the Purchase on Thursday to address advocates and food distribution workers and agencies at the Purchase Area Regional Development District (PADD) office in Mayfield. The PADD serves eight far western Kentucky counties. This is one of several that Quarles is holding across the Commonwealth.

The PADD manages a food bank that serves 32 food pantries, two soup kitchens, and two shelters. The PADD distributed more than 2.3 million pounds of food to 21,738 individulats who participate in the Commodity Snap Food Program, the Emergecy Food Assistance Program and Feeding America Partnership in the 2016 fiscal year.

Quarles was joined by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, an early supporter of the Hunger Initiative. The two politicians joked that they could work together for hunger relief, but this is Fancy Farm week, a reference to the partisan bickering that characterizes the political events in and around Graves County.

Quarles spoke of some of the problems that those who are food insecure face:

53% have to choose between food and transportation

57% choose between food and medical care

39% choose between food and housing

11% choose between food and education

Children, according to Quarles, who are food insecure, depend on school meals. He lauded the back pack programs that several agencies run that send food home with children on weekends and during summer breaks.

The issue facing local food banks and shelters include a lack of cold storage, lack of transportation facilities and as always, lack of money.

Graves County Judge Jesse Perry, whose county has lost several big employers in recent years, told the Frankfort politicians that getting people into good jobs was the way to fight hunger.

There are ways that others can help. Quarles and Grimes urged money donations to food banks and to their initiative. when funds are aggregated, bulk buying can occur. They also urged volunteerism and networking. Grimes asked how the groups represented in the room worked together. Most communicate through the PADD.

Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles brought the Hunger Initiative to Mayfield on Thursday, August 4, 2016.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles addresses stakeholders at PADD meeting. Brad Davis of the PADD is on the right.
Questions on a powerpoint. What can be done about 1 in 6 Kentuckians with food insecurity?
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was an early supporter of the program.
Clay Black, PADD Commodities Director shares stats on local programs.

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