Ag commissioner kicks off first regional meeting to address food insecurity in Kentucky

06/22/2016 02:04 PM

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – The first of 10 Kentucky Hunger Regional Task Force meetings took place on Tuesday in northern Kentucky as community leaders discussed what is working as well as the challenges they face in feeding Kentucky’s food-insecure population.

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 task force is 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 the state.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the regional meetings are important because when it comes to finding solutions to feeding the hungry in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, one size does not fit all.

“We know what might work in Louisville won’t work in northern Kentucky, or may not work in eastern Kentucky, so we’re going start having these conversations and meet people at the grass roots level who are already addressing hunger in their local communities to try to figure out what’s working and what’s not,” Quarles said.

Kurt Reiber, president and CEO of Cincinnati-based Freestore Foodbank, which serves nine counties in northern Kentucky, sees children as most vulnerable when it comes to food insecurity, especially in the summer months.

“In the 20 county service area of the Freestore Foodbank, eight out of 10 kids, 80 percent of the kids are eligible for free and reduced lunches,” Reiber said. “So, when you think about this initiative, right now during the summer months, that’s our critical time for us.”

According to the latest Feeding America statistics, 743,310 Kentuckians are classified as food insecure, with 222,380 being children.

The top counties with the highest food insecurity rates are: Wolfe, Harlan, McCreary, Fulton, and Clay counties.

The top counties with the highest child food insecurity rates are Wolfe, Harlan, Clay, Knox, and McCreary counties.

Click here for more information about the Hunger Task Force and the Hunger Initiative.


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