Constitutional officers Quarles, Grimes, Beshear look for ways to solve hunger in Kentucky

02/07/2017 04:23 PM

FRANKFORT – Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Attorney General Andy Beshear took part in a rally on Tuesday to encourage Kentuckians to help solve hunger in the commonwealth — an initiative first propelled by Quarles.

According to the Map the Meal Gap report, one in six Kentuckians, and one in five children are food-insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food for a healthy active lifestyle.

Beshear explained how food insecurity can have life lasting effects on children.

“Infants suffering from food insecurity are more likely to have delayed development, more attachment and learning difficulties in the first two years of life,” Beshear said.

Beshear also announced the launch of the KY Legal Food Frenzy campaign to raise food and funds for hunger relief; A collaborative effort among the Office of the Attorney General Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Office of the Secretary of State.

The goal is to raise 600,000 pounds of food or $150,000 from March 27 to April 7, 2017.

“There are seven categories of competition,” Beshear said. “Law schools, corporate legal departments and government entities will compete in their own category. Winners will be determined by the total amount of food donated.”

Grimes urged lawmakers to renew a Kentucky law that provides tax incentives to Kentucky farmers who donate to food banks. Grimes was a prominent backer of legislation creating the incentives.

“Kentucky farmers grow some of the best agricultural products in the country and the world,” said Grimes. “And knowing that as many as one in six Kentuckians is impacted by lack of food, the Farms to Food Banks tax credits for farmers who donate to Kentucky food banks are more important than ever. We should not only renew the credits, but increase their value.”

Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles announced that the Kentucky Pork Producers Association (KPPA) donated $5,000 to the Kentucky Association of Food Banks for purchasing pork products for distribution by KAFB member organizations.

Quarles also has proposed legislation that would strengthen the shield against legal liability for food donations, as well as a measure that would double the tax credit for food products donated to food banks.

“Representative Philip Pratt of Georgetown is sponsoring what we are calling the food immunity bill,” Quarles said. “This bill is a piece of good public policy which would provide assurances that those grocery stores, those restaurants that choose to donate will be protected.

“The second piece of legislation that we will be running is the extension of the farmer tax credit for those farmers who choose to donate food. That will be run by Representative Brandon Reed.”

Debbie Fannin runs the Grayson County Alliance Food Pantry and said that in her world, hunger is not about statistics, but familiar faces, friends and family.

“In 2016, we served on average 800 households,” Fannin said. “We saw 332 new families to our food pantry.”

Grayson County resident Angela Perrin expressed her appreciation for the pantry when health issues caused her family to lose both incomes.

“Receiving the food was such a blessing, but even more of a blessing, was a comfort and reassurance that each month there would be food on my family’s table,” Perrin said.

The Kentucky Association of Food Banks is comprised of seven feeding America food banks that reach all 120 counties of Kentucky and serve an estimated one in seven of all Kentuckians annually.

In 2016, its members distributed 58 million meals in partnership with more than 800 charitable feeding agencies such as pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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