A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Hunger Initiative’s ‘Serving Up Solutions’ dinner raises $39,000 for two state anti-hunger organizations

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced that a benefit dinner featuring a bipartisan cross-section of Kentucky leaders raised $39,000 for two anti-hunger organizations.

An estimated 150 people attended the first “Serving Up Solutions” dinner at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History to benefit Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH) and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB). Proceeds from ticket sales and donations raised $19,000. United States Ambassador Kelly Craft and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Joe Craft more than matched that total with a donation of $20,000.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, right, chats with state Reps. Richard Heath of Mayfield and Angie Hatton of Whitesburg prior to the Serving Up Solutions dinner in January in Frankfort. The dinner raised $39,000 for Kentucky hunger organizations. (Photo from Kentucky Department of Agriculture)

“I am awed by the overwhelming response to this event,” Commissioner Quarles said. “The enthusiasm exhibited by our guests shows the depth of their commitment to ending hunger in Kentucky, which is the goal of our Hunger Initiative.”

Ambassador Craft, Mr. Craft, state Representative Phillip Pratt, state Senator Robin Webb, and Commissioner Quarles hosted the dinner. Governor Matt Bevin and First Lady Glenna Bevin appeared, and the Governor delivered remarks praising the event’s purpose.

The crowd included some 25 elected and appointed state officials and leaders in business, education, and the nonprofit community. WellCare Health Plans was the presenting sponsor, and Kroger served as a sponsor.

“As the largest Medicaid managed care organization in the state, WellCare understands that food access directly affects the health of Kentuckians,” said Bill Jones, WellCare’s Kentucky president. “Regular, nutritious meals are necessary for growing children and anyone struggling with a chronic condition, such as diabetes. But hunger is also an obstacle to getting preventive health care that can catch health issues early.”

“We are delighted at the success of the first ‘Serving Up Solutions’ dinner,” said Ivan Schell, KHFH executive director. “These funds will greatly enhance our efforts to process and distribute donated venison to Kentuckians in need.”

KAFB Executive Director Tamara Sandberg estimated that the KAFB’s share of the proceeds from the dinner would enable it to buy enough fresh produce through the Farms to Food Banks Program for 144,000 meals.

“KAFB is thrilled and energized by ‘Serving Up Solutions’,” Sandberg said. “This is another example of measurable impact in the fight against hunger in Kentucky.”

The Hunger Initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort in Kentucky that Commissioner Quarles launched in the spring of 2016 to bring together farmers, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders, and government entities to look for ways to reduce hunger in Kentucky.

Map the Meal Gap 2017, an annual study by Feeding America, revealed that one in every six Kentuckians – including one in five children – was food insecure in 2015, meaning that consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.

From Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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