KENTUCKY — A “sweet” donation is bringing smiles to people across Kentucky, thanks to a delivery from Perfetti Van Melle North America, maker of candies such as Airheads, Mentos, and more. The donation is part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Hunger Initiative. 

During this In Focus Kentucky segment, we caught up with Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, R, as he shared details about working to bring together farmers, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders and government entities to reduce hunger in Kentucky.

"We challenge not only fellow Kentuckians, but also our corporate partners, as well as our food banks to try to get out and increase donations, and also increase awareness because one of the biggest issues in hunger is that people surprisingly don't know that it exists in their own backyard. Awareness is one of the biggest issues in hunger because number one, even in the most affluent counties in Kentucky, hunger exists in every single city, community and county in Kentucky, period, regardless of what your community may look like. Secondly, we know that hunger rates are underreported because there's a stigma attached to this. Oftentimes it's embarrassing to admit, 'Hey I may not have the resource, the food or adequate food on my family's table this month,' and so we know that it's underreported. And third, we have to remind folks constantly that giving isn't just something you do around Thanksgiving or the Christmas holiday. It's something that needs to be done."

Quarles said he's challenging Kentuckians to do one of three things.

"Number one, if you can donate food to your local pantry, please do that. They can assist you, pick out items, you can sponsor. If you don't want to donate food, you can always donate money to to make a donation. Or number three, consider donating your time. We're constantly looking for volunteers to help pack meals, backpack programs and deliver meals as well. So during Hunger Action Month, we want Kentuckians to be part of the solution, and help stamp out hunger in our state," explained Quarles.