Food pantries get new donated freezers

Food banks across Kentucky will be able to offer a better variety of food after more than 150 chest freezers were donated to state officials.

Monday morning, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles was in Winchester to deliver the first five of 156 freezers to food pantries in Clark and neighboring counties. The donation was part of Quarles’ Kentucky Hunger Initiative.

“In the farm community and as a farmer’s kid, I grew up in a culture where you take care of your neighbor and this is an example of that,” Quarles said during an event at God’s Pantry’s warehouse on Enterprise Drive in Winchester. “The ultimate goal is to reduce hunger in Kentucky so we don’t need to do this.”

The freezers were donated by Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank, Quarles said. An organization in each county will get one freezer, he said; larger counties will get more than one.

Quarles said one of every six Kentuckians, about 750,000 people, is classified as food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal will be. In Clark County, about 14 percent of residents are food insecure, he said.

“Hunger in Kentucky is not a rural problem. It’s not an urban problem,” he said.

Throughout the state, Kentucky growers and producers have donated as well, he said, such as Kentucky’s pork producers who donated thousands of pounds of meat to the initiative, he said.

God’s Pantry Food Bank Executive Director Michael Halligan said the freezers will allow pantries and other organizations to keep and preserve dairy products and meat for clients.

“Having infrastructure to improve shelf life … is of critical importance to what we do,” Halligan said. “You don’t end hunger in a warehouse. You end hunger by bringing a group of people together to fight hunger.”

It also make the pantry feel a little more like a regular store, he said, which adds a sense of normalcy.

“(The freezers) will be filled with produce (Tuesday),” Halligan said. “In two days, that produce will be delivered.”

Quarles said five of the freezers would be delivered Monday. It would take a couple weeks before they would all be installed at the receiving pantries.