Frankfort, KY- In a year when Kentucky farmers faced weather extremes from a drenched spring to a fall drought, hundreds of producers shared their yield with their less-fortunate neighbors through the Farms to Food Banks program.

Three hundred forty Kentucky farmers from across the state provided 3 million pounds of produce to food banks in 2019. That is enough to fill half a plate full of fruits and vegetables for nearly 5 million meals.

The produce was distributed to people at risk of hunger in all 120 counties by 7 regional food banks and 500 local food pantries.

"For the 1 in 7 Kentuckians who do not always know where their next meal will come from -- including nearly 200,000 children -- access to fresh produce can be a challenge," said Program Coordinator Sarah Vaughn. "We are so grateful for Kentucky's farm families and their partnership in the fight against hunger."

Administered by Feeding Kentucky, the Farms to Food Banks program helps cover a farmer's cost of picking, packing and transporting their unmarketable or surplus produce to a food bank.

Twenty-eight types of produce were distributed in 2019, ranging from apples to lettuce to zucchini. This fresh, nourishing food would otherwise have gone to waste.

New in 2019 was a pilot project that lightly processed local produce to extend the number of months it was available for distribution by the food bank network. Feeding Kentucky partnered with Food Chain in Lexington, CANE Kitchen in Whitesburg, and Lee's Garden Center in Hodgenville to provide frozen sweetcorn, butternut squash and apples along with preparation instructions and recipes.

Funding for the program came from supporters such as the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Farm Credit Mid-America, the Novak Family Foundation, and individual donors.

Kentucky state income taxpayers can donate a portion of their tax refund to support the program by checking the "Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund" box on their tax return.

Read more about the 2019 Farms to Food Banks program impact here.

Kentucky-Grown Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program

Another way Kentucky farmers gave back was through the Kentucky-Grown Fruit and Vegetable Incentive program. The program increased the amount of local produce distributed to Kentucky youth by summer- and afterschool-meals programs. Since the program's launch in 2018, 160 Kentucky farmers have provided over 160,000 pounds of 34 types of local produce consumed by children and teens at meal sites.

Administered by Feeding Kentucky in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Education, the program is funded by the Kentucky Agriculture Development Fund.

Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference

Attendees of the 2020 Fruit and Vegetable Conference taking place this week at the Lexington Embassy Suites Hotel are encouraged to stop by the Feeding Kentucky booth to learn more about both programs.

More information is available at FeedingKY.org.

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