Kentucky farmers have until April 5 to sign up with the Farms to Food Banks program if they want to sell produce that’s not considered ‘picture perfect’ enough for grocery stores.
The Farms to Food Banks program is increasing its statewide outreach to farmers as planting season gets underway.
Last year 349 farmers from 64 counties in Kentucky sold surplus portions of their crops, as well as slightly imperfect produce, often called ‘ugly’ produce, to the Farms to Food Banks program.
‘Ugly’ produce may vary in size, shape or appearance from what grocery stores prefer, but the imperfect produce purchased for the program is equally fresh and nutritious.
Farms to Food Banks is a program of Feeding Kentucky, a network of seven regional food banks and 800 local partner agencies that include soup kitchens and food pantries.
Feeding Kentucky Programs Coordinator Sarah Vaughn said the Appalachian Expansion Project launched this year is aimed at bringing more farmers into a program that has multiple advantages.
“The purpose is to provide Kentuckians who might be hungry with access to healthy produce and also to help farmers by giving them another income channel and then to reduce waste,” said Vaughn.
She said the Appalachian Expansion Project increases the focus on 27 counties in eastern Kentucky that had one farmer, or no farmers, participating in the Farms to Food Banks program.
That initiative is funded by a grant from the Educational Foundation of America, which awards funding for projects that increase access to nutritious food, especially in Appalachia. The grant allows Farms to Food Banks to contract with eastern Kentucky farmers to be paid for their surplus and ‘ugly’ produce.
“The applications are due on April 5 and I know that’s a tight deadline,” said Vaughn. “We’re trying to go ahead and get all the applications collected before farmers start planting, so that they can know what to expect before their season begins.”
Farmers can apply online at feedingky.org and click on the “Farms to Food Banks” link.