This March, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks is recognizing National Nutrition Month in honor of the one in six Kentuckians who lack consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
Sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month focuses nationwide attention on healthful eating.
Good health starts with good food. That’s why food banks in Kentucky are committed to providing nutritious food for the 700,000 of our neighbors who are at risk of hunger.
Of the 76 million pounds of food distributed by our members last year, more than one quarter was fresh produce.
Our Farms to Food Banks program is working to ensure all Kentuckians have access to fresh healthful fruits and vegetables. Kentucky farmers with produce that retailers have rejected because of minor blemishes or size discrepancies are connected with a food bank.
The program helps ensure the fruits and vegetables are distributed to our struggling neighbors rather than going to waste in the field.
Since 2011, the Farms to Food Banks program has resulted in over 15 million pounds of 28 types of Kentucky-grown produce from over 850 farmers distributed in all 120 counties. That is the equivalent of filling half a plate full of fruits and vegetables for 25 million meals across the commonwealth.
Financial support for the program has been provided by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund through an appropriation from the General Assembly.
Support for the appropriation is widespread: A survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found that 82 percent of respondents agree the Kentucky legislature should provide additional funding for the program. We are counting on our leaders in Frankfort to protect the state funding for Farms to Food Banks this budget session.
State income taxpayers can also support the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund by donating a portion of their state income tax refund. Just check the box on line 33e of your tax form to fight hunger while filing your taxes.
Our families, communities and economy are stronger when everyone has the healthful food they need to grow and work. All of us have a role to play in solving hunger in Kentucky — individuals, charities, farmers, business and government. We must work together so every Kentucky family has enough nutritious food to fuel a bright future for the commonwealth.
To learn how you can get involved in the fight against hunger, visit KyFoodBanks.org.
Tamara Sandberg is executive director of Kentucky Association of Food Banks.