Kentuckians are some of the most generous folks you will ever meet. It’s part of our culture and values to share from our abundance with those who are less fortunate. This year, we all will have a new opportunity to do just that.
In Kentucky, 1 in 6 of our neighbors is food insecure, which means they lack consistent access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life. The rate is even worse for our children: Nearly 1 in 4 children in Kentucky is food insecure. This is unacceptable in any circumstance, but particularly in a state that is blessed with an abundance of natural resources.
That’s why I’m asking all Kentuckians to join me in donating a portion of your state income tax refund to the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund. Administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the fund is intended to provide grants to nonprofits for the distribution of Kentucky-grown surplus agricultural commodities to low-income individuals.
One such nonprofit is the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. Its Farms to Food Banks program helps low-income Kentuckians get the fresh foods they need for themselves and their families while creating a new market for Kentucky farm products. Since 2011, the program has distributed enough Kentucky-grown produce to fill half a plate full of fruits and vegetables for nearly 5 million meals across the Commonwealth. At the same time, the program has created an average of $950 in new income for more than 500 Kentucky farmers.
To raise awareness of the need among low-income Kentuckians and the opportunity to give to the trust fund, January has been set aside as Farms to Food Banks Month in Kentucky. I will join the Kentucky Association of Food Banks at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort on Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. EST. Please join us if you can.
One of my top priorities as agriculture commissioner is to generate economic development through agriculture, and the Farms to Food Banks program helps us to accomplish that goal. At the same time, it enables less fortunate Kentuckians to serve healthful meals to their families.
I hope Kentuckians throughout the Commonwealth will join me in supporting this effort to help Kentucky’s needy and Kentucky’s farmers. Look for the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund box on your income tax form.
James Comer is the Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner.