KY Farms to Food Banks Egg-spansion: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be?
The expansion of Kentucky’s Farms to Food Banks program to include eggs didn’t turn out all it was cracked up to be.
Kentucky Association of Food Banks Executive Director Tamara Sandberg said the program has only completed one transaction of 100 dozen eggs in the past 12 months. She said funders require the association to pay below wholesale market prices for products.
“A number of the farmers we worked with told us that the price we were able to pay wouldn’t even cover their cost for washing the eggs and putting them in cartons and getting them to a food bank,” Sandberg said.
She said the program also ran out of grant funding before the end of the expansion pilot, which prevented a potential transaction.
“We had one farmer that offered some eggs and by the time the eggs were ready our grant funds had already been spent for the year,” Sandberg said. “We didn’t have anything to pay the farmer with.”
Sandberg said the program could be salvaged through funding that would allow the Association to pay farmers the costs of putting eggs in food banks. She said the association will ask funders for permission to pay above market prices to cover production costs.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture primarily funds the program but grant funding will be reduced in July as mandated by the state budget. KDA Director of Communications Sean Southard said he understands the expansion’s difficulties.
Private groups like the Lift a Life Foundation also help fund the program. Spokesperson Ashley Butler said the company would be open to changing the amount the KAFB can pay for eggs but would have to evaluate the business model to see if it is sustainable. She said getting eggs to food banks is valuable but expensive.
Kentuckians can donate to the program through tax refunds.