August 22, 2008

Several hundred 4-H'ers and University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agents donated fair entries and canned food items to a Louisville food bank during 4-H project entry day at the Kentucky State Fair.

During the one-day food drive, Kentucky Harvest received 285 canned food items and more than 1,000 fresh food and horticulture 4-H projects that were judged that same day.

This was the first time 4-H hosted a statewide food drive at the state fair. It was conducted in support of the USDA's "Fight Hunger Initiative" and gave 4-H'ers a chance to give back and make a positive contribution to the host city.

"The amount of donations we received was a lot more than we anticipated," said Deana Reed, 4H Youth development specialist. "Everyone was really positive about it, and it was for a good cause."

Poverty and hunger are major concerns in the nation and state. The Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book reported that 18 percent of children in the United States were living in poverty in 2006. In Kentucky, that number jumped to 23 percent. According to USDA Food and Nutrition Service, an average of more than 602,000 Kentuckians participated in the Food Stamp program during any given month in 2007.

Joe Kurth, assistant director for Kentucky 4H Youth development programs, said the USDA initiative was an excellent cause for 4-H to participate in since both organizations strive to develop healthy, productive youths.

"Our focus is on the growth and development of young people, which requires good basic nutrition," he said. "Hunger is such a significant roadblock to good nutrition, and with our focus being on youth development, I am pleased that we could play a role in the initiative."

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