September 6, 2007 | By: Jeff Franklin

It started last year with fresh produce from the Boyd County Farmers’ Market, now you can add fresh meat to that. As a result, needy people in the area will have more food on their plates. 

Last summer, farmers at the Boyd County Farmers’ Market donated leftover corn, green beans, watermelons and other items each week to River Cities Harvest, an organization that collects and distributes perishable food to agencies that help feed the hungry in the area. The idea came from Lyndall Harned, Boyd County extension agent for agricultural and natural resources in the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Harned, who sits on River Cities Harvest board of directors, took his idea a step further.

“I suggested that the RCH people attend our county fair livestock auction and talk to the buyers about what they were going to do with the animals,” Harned said. “Many were just simply going to send them to the local stockyards and get what they could for them.” 

The animals come from the fair’s 4-H livestock show and are typically sold in the auction. Money from the sale of the animals goes back to the 4-H member who owned them. Harned says the money usually is put into a college fund for the 4-H member. 

Last year, three goats and two lambs were donated as a start. This year those numbers more than doubled. Four steers, three lambs, six goats and a pig were donated to RCH, to have process and distribute to their client agencies for use, just as they do with the farmers’ market produce. After the animals were processed at a local processing plant, the meat was given to four agencies that prepare meals on site to feed the needy.

“They all prepare meals every day and they got ground meat to get them through the winter,” said Amanda Gilmore, operations coordinator for River Cities Harvest. “They can make lots of spaghetti, chili, and it can go a long way by doing it this way.”

One of the recipients of the meat is the Community Kitchen located in the Parish Hall of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Ashland. The Community Kitchen, which serves about 100 free lunches five days a week, received 550 pounds of beef, goat and pork. 

“We will put that beef in our chili and pasta, the pork we will use in breakfast food,” said Diane Adams, food service manager for the Community Kitchen. “We just use it in anything and everything, we will use it.”

Adams said she uses around 20 to 30 pounds of meat a day in recipes and this donation should last her about three months. She is very appreciative of River Cities Harvest and what it does for the community.

That is the same feeling at Ashland’s Child Development Center, another agency which received a donation of 360 pounds of ground beef. The agency feeds children who qualify for free or reduced lunch, a breakfast, lunch and snack five days a week.

“That’s a big savings, because I order hamburger in big rolls, so that helps a lot,” said Alma Miller, ACDC’s cook. “It’s about $60 dollars for four, 10-pound rolls of hamburger, so this would be a big savings.”

Harned said the donations are a win-win for everyone – the 4-H members, various agencies and River Cities Harvest.

“I don’t see a downside to it,” he said. “There are no losers in this and that’s rare in today’s society. But in this, everybody is winning.”


Lyndall Harned, 606-739-5184, Amanda Gilmore, 606-329-3045