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Kentucky Department of Agriculture receives grant to implement new food box program


According to officials, about one in seven Kentuckians and about one in six children face food insecurity of some kind. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is using a grant from the USDA to strengthen three food programs.

One of the efforts is a new food box program. 2.4 million dollars will go toward the effort to connect local producers with commercial partners. Under the plan, that collaboration would then provide fresh, as well as partially prepared or processed food to food insecure Kentuckians.

Ian Hester is Director of the Division of Food Distribution at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Hester said the new program has potential for growth.

“One of the things we've considered is direct delivery. So, you have may have some communities that for whatever reason, don't want to go to the pantry or aren't able to get out to a pantry. And so, we can do direct delivery straight to their house. And so that can expand the reach of those local ingredients as well,” said Hester.

In addition to the food box program, 1.6 million dollars will go to purchase and distribute food through the six Feeding Kentucky Food Banks. More than 1.1 million dollars will go toward expanding the state’s frozen meals program.

Hester said frozen meals program has been great for families.

“If I hand you a box of fresh produce, at the end of a long day, you may not have the time or the energy or the equipment to cook that. But if we've got a couple of meals that were made with fresh local ingredients, and you can just heat those up and feed the kids that. We think that's pretty neat,” said Hester.

Hester added that the KDA will send out a request for proposal to find more organizations that want to make frozen meals or potentially help distribute them more broadly across the state.

Hester said the grant from the USDA requires that they partner with socially disadvantaged farmers and producers.

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Samantha was a reporter and All Things Considered Host from 2019 to 2023. Sam is also a graduate of Morehead State University and worked for MSU's Public Radio Station.
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