feeding kentucky

Feeding Kentucky/Farms to Food Banks

A perfect appearance isn’t everything when it comes to produce. 

The Kentucky Farms to Food Banks program proves that by purchasing what's affectionately called 'ugly produce.'  That's fruits and vegetables with a bruise or imperfect shape that makes it hard to sell to grocery stores that want to display 'perfect' produce. 

But ugly produce can still be fresh and nutritious, and help stock the pantries of families that are food insecure. 

The Farms to Food Banks program is beginning to line up farmers who want to sell extra produce ranging from apples to zuccini this year.

Farms to Food Banks is in excellent financial shape thanks to the generosity that continued through the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Facebook/Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland

The pandemic has caused thousands of people across Kentucky, and the nation, to lose their jobs and struggle to keep food on the table. 

Emergency food distributions, including two this week, are helping hundreds of Warren County families who are hungry.

Feeding Kentucky has already been bringing food once a month to Lampkin Park in Warren County. But since the pandemic, the food bank has added emergency distributions once a month at two additional parks.

Jamie Sizemore, executive director of the food bank that serves 42 counties, said many people may not realize how many families don’t have enough to eat.

“We’ve never in the history of this food bank, or any food bank within the Feeding America network, have we ever seen the magnitude of food insecurity due to so many issues," said Sizemore. "It’s just overwhelming.”


Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland

Hunger in Kentucky is increasing as COVID-19 precautions have shut down most businesses, while senior citizens and others with underlying medical conditions are staying home.

Emergency distributions are helping to keep food on the table during this difficult time.

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland has been assessing the 42 counties it serves. Executive Director Jamie Sizemore said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means families just do not have enough money to pay for housing, utilities and food.

“Our partner agencies are reporting everywhere from a 30-60 percent increase in food assistance," said Sizemore. "And one of the things, obviously, we’re seeing is a lot of people that are first-time users of food banks or food assistance programs.”


G.J. Strang/University of Kentucky

Kentucky’s Farms to Food Banks program increased the types of produce purchased from farmers in 2019.

It also began a new project to freeze some items that were sent along to food banks.

Farms to Food Banks buys what’s sometimes called “ugly produce.” It’s healthy, but not perfect enough in appearance to be sold to grocery stores.

The program pays farmers enough to cover the cost of labor, packaging and transportation, and keeps the imperfect produce from going to waste.

Sarah Vaughn, programs coordinator for Feeding Kentucky, said the program bought 22 types of produce in 2018, with that figure increasing to 28 varieties in 2019.


Feeding Kentucky

A new report shows the 2019 Summer Food Service Program served 3.2 million meals to Kentucky children. Those meals were served at schools, in buses converted to mobile cafés, and sometimes at tables set up in someone’s yard.

The 2019 KY Kids Eat Summer Success Report by Feeding Kentucky shows summer meals for children increased by 10 percent over the previous season. 

That expansion of meals served to children has been a trend, with double-digit increases every year during the past five years. 

One reason for the increase is an expansion of mobile feeding programs that bring meals to children in rural areas. 


Rhonda J. Miller

The Map the Meal Gap 2019 report by Feeding America shows that Kentucky has more than 650,000 residents who are food insecure.

A food pantry in Bardstown is helping to close that meal gap for 700 local families who choose their own groceries.               

On a recent Tuesday morning, Bread for Life Community Food Pantry volunteer Don Bresnahan walked with a client along the produce aisle.

“Want some broccoli?” asked Bresnahan.


Creative Commons

Kentucky farmers have until April 5 to sign up with the Farms to Food Banks program if they want to sell produce that’s not considered ‘picture perfect’ enough for grocery stores.

The Farms to Food Banks program is increasing its statewide outreach to farmers as planting season gets underway.

Last year, 349 farmers from 64 counties in Kentucky sold surplus portions of their crops, as well as slightly imperfect produce, often called ‘ugly’ produce, to the Farms to Food Banks program.

'Ugly' produce may vary in size, shape or appearance from what grocery stores prefer, but the imperfect produce purchased for the program is equally fresh and nutritious.