Donated chest freezers will allow food pantries to preserve perishable food for needy

08/14/2017 01:55 PM

WINCHESTER – Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced on Monday the kickoff of delivering 120-plus chest freezers on donated by agricultural lenders to food pantries across the state in support of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative.

Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank donated the freezers to enable workers at the pantries to accept frozen meats and other frozen foods, which, in the past, they could not because they had no way of storing those items.

Quarles, who has made the Hunger Initiative, a first-of-its-kind effort in Kentucky to bring farmers, businesses, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders and government entities to help reduce hunger in Kentucky, says the program allows those groups to easily do what needs to be done, donate excess food and have that foods get into the hands of those who need it.

“We have a lot of farmers who are willing to donate crops that would otherwise rot in the field, and other people who want to donate fresh perishables, and what we found out was that most of our food pantries lack the infrastructure to keep these foods fresh, and also being able to store them until their clients are able to use them,” Quarles said.

Quarles notes that there’s clear evidence that many Kentuckians are needy, and will benefit from having the freezers placed at the various pantries across the commonwealth.

“One in six Kentuckians, and one in five Kentucky school children are considered food insecure meaning they don’t have access or may not know where their next mean comes from,” Quarles said. “Our farmers are really good at growing food and raising livestock, and so I found it appalling that so many folks go to bed hungry each and every night.”

God’s Pantry CEO Mike Halligan, whose organization provides 121,400 meals every day for hungry people in Central and Eastern Kentucky across a 50-county service area, says the freezers will serve one chief function, to extend shelf life of food products stored at the pantries.

“These freezers will be filled with meat, protein and dairy products in just a few short days,” Halligan said. “They’ll extend the shelf life of those products so that we can serve more people, more efficiently and more effectively.”

While Halligan admits that hunger is truly a state wide issue, the Central and Eastern Kentucky area that his organization serves in particularly hard hit.

“A quarter of a million people are at risk of hunger,” Halligan said. “We address hunger one community at a time, one neighborhood at a time, by understanding the needs of hunger in that community and addressing the issues in that community.”

God’s Pantry is headquartered in Lexington, with an additional warehouse in Winchester, and regional distribution centers located in Morehead, London and Prestonsburg.

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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