By KaLeigh Underwood
KY Project Contributor
Hunger is a problem commonly associated with underdeveloped countries. It is not typically a problem you relate to those in your own backyard. Commercials on television ask for donations to help those in need in these other countries, however hunger is also a problem inside urban Kentucky.
More than 42,000 people in Lexington don’t know where the next meal they eat is going to come from, but one program is working to help give people food to survive and is making sure the meal they eat is nutritionally balanced.
Fayette County is home to more than 308,428 people. 1 out of 7 people in the county suffer from food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined by oxford dictionary as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food”. This uncertainty and the fear of going hungry is the motivation that drives the volunteers of the Faith Feeds Program.
The Faith Feeds Program is an organization that collects the remains of crops, a process known as gleaning, and excess food from other sources to help provide hunger programs with fresh produce.
“In the beginning, we only worked with farms and orchards,” said Rachel Hollars, the fundraising coordinator for the Faith Feeds Program. “So we were only gleaning a few months out of the year whenever produce was in season. Now that we have expanded to super markets we can glean 365 days a year.”
The program contacts farms, orchards and farmers markets to see if any produce can be donated to the cause.
“For example, sometimes we get calls that a storm has come through and there are too many apples on the ground for the farmers to pick up,” Hollars said. “So we get a team together and go pick spend the day picking them up.”
Supermarkets have produce stock that reach their sale by date or is too bruised. Instead of letting the produce go to waste, the Faith Feeds Program gets the opportunity to distribute the produce. Costco Wholesale alone was throwing out around 1,000 pounds of produce per day, Hollars said.
The Faith Feeds Program works to supply 52 programs in Lexington. These are groups such as hunger ministries, backpack programs, government agencies and neighborhood ambassadors.
They provide produce to God’s Pantry, the Catholic Action Center, Moveable Feast, Hope Centers, the Lexington Rescue Mission, the Nathaniel Mission, and other church hunger programs, such as the Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church and the Calvary Church of the Nazarene.
“We estimate our food reaches over 20,000 people,” Hollars said.
The organization just celebrated its fourth birthday and Hollars said she sees it continuing for a long time.
“If you look at hunger programs, they do a lot of great things,” Hollars said. “But there is an abundance of processed foods, breads, meats, and canned items. That’s awesome but people that struggle with hunger need a diet to help them remain healthy and processed foods cannot always accomplish that.”
The Faith Feeds Program also works in Montgomery, Franklin and Woodford counties.
The program operates on a volunteer basis and volunteers are always needed, accepted and appreciated, Hollars said.
For more information about the Faith Feeds Program, go online to http://faithfeedslex.org/.