KLC & Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles' "Hunger Packing" Event Feeds More Than 1200 Children

Posted on October 6, 2017

     More than 100 city officials and community volunteers got a chance Thursday morning to help battle a problem Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles calls, “unacceptable.” The Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) teamed up with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Hunger Initiative to create a signature event to pack meals for Kentucky children. The event was held at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington in conjunction with the KLC Conference & Expo. The large number of volunteers who turned out to help “Send Hunger Packing” assembled more than 1,200 meal power packs for children.

     Commissioner Ryan Quarles told attendees at the conference hunger impacts every city in Kentucky. As the majority of Kentuckians live within incorporated city limits, hunger is a problem that Quarles urged city officials to acknowledge and address. Quarles reminded the crowd food insecurity can hide in any neighborhood. He pointed out there is a stigma associated with hunger that leaves many people to suffer in silence.

     Hunger is an issue across the state; one that impacts 743,000 Kentuckians. Statistics show one in six Kentuckians battle hunger and one in five Kentucky school children are food insecure. Commissioner Quarles told the crowd that Louisville has 122,000 people without enough food — that’s 16 percent of the city’s population. “It’s in every single community,” said Quarles. “It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue, it’s not an urban or rural issues. It’s something that affects all of us.”

     Under Commissioner Quarles leadership, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture developed the Kentucky Hunger Initiative to battle the problem. Quarles says it aims to bring people from all stages of food production together to address the problem of food insecurity in Kentucky. Organizers recently held regional meetings in the state to develop strategies to address the problem. Quarles says the meetings pointed out the need for better awareness of the wide reach of hunger in Kentucky. The 10 regional meetings also showed advocates there is a need for better communication among those battling hunger in the state.

     One agency helping in the effort is the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. It helped organize the food packing event in Covington on Thursday morning. In all, 1212 meal packs were assembled by city officials, KLC staff and community volunteers. A group of Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from Williamstown Independent Schools was among the members of the community who came to the Covington event to volunteer. The Freestore Food Bank will distribute the packs assembled on Thursday to kids in need within the Northern Kentucky community. Many times the meal children receive at school on a Friday for lunch is the last meal they receive until they return on Monday. The bags of non-perishable food are sent home with the students, in their backpacks, so there’s food to eat over the weekend.

     Commissioner Quarles was thankful to local officials for taking on the fight. The Kentucky League of Cities appreciates the dedication Quarles and the Department of Agriculture have put into solving the hunger problem.