FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Food insecurity in Kentucky has grown worse since the COVID-19 pandemic, making the job of foodbanks even more difficult.
During a Hunger Free Kentucky Day rally on Thursday, which was held virtually, Katrina Thompson, executive Director of Feeding Kentucky, said, “Food insecurity has increased by 40%, at least, because of the pandemic. That means one in five Kentucky adults, and more than one in four Kentucky children, are now considered food insecure.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles praised the organization for its efforts during the trying times cause by the coronavirus. “I am confident that had it not been for Feeding Kentucky and the infrastructure that you already have around the state, things would have been worse.”
Quarles noted that even before the pandemic, one in seven adults suffered from food insecurity. “Kentucky farmers and indeed, the entire agriculture community, stepped up to the plate, rose to the challenge, and helped feed a hungry state.”
He recalled starting the Kentucky Hunger Initiative five years ago, “And who would have thought that half a decade later, that this would have set us up to really step-up donations, not only of food from Kentucky farmers, but also financial contributions, as well.”
Quarles continued, “Last year, when we knew that the need was going to be great, and as an unprecedented number of Kentuckians lost their jobs, we knew we had to move quickly. That’s why we are so proud that the biggest donation ever to the Kentucky Hunger initiative occurred last March, when Kentucky Farm Bureau donated a half-million dollars to feeding Kentucky.”
He says that donation helped purchase 96,000 hamburgers produced by Kentucky farmers, 10,000 pounds of Purnell’s Old Folks Country Sausage, milk and dairy products, including 5,000 pounds of cheese, and over a half million eggs.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he will once again spearhead the Legal Food Frenzy, a competition among lawyers to contribute to the state’s food banks.
“Since 2017, when it was started by then-Attorney General and now Governor Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s legal community has donated more than one million meals, to meet the needs of hungry children, adults and families across the Ccmmonwealth.”
Gov. Beshear signed a proclamation marking this as hunger free day in Kentucky.
“In the best of times, your work is daunting. During COVID, it has been nothing short of heroic,” Gov. Beshear said. “The entire Commonwealth owes you all a debt of gratitude but also, crucially, more than just words of thanks. Your efforts deserve our full support.”
He also made a surprise announcement during the event, that he was donating $15,673 unused from the Beshear-Coleman inaugural fund to Feeding Kentucky. Remaining inaugural funds can only be donated to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.
“This donation is another sign of my commitment to fighting hunger and my administration’s belief in you, our indispensable Team Kentucky partners,” the Governor said.