Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has announced Feeding Kentucky has purchased 10,080 pounds of Kentucky Proud pork sausage from the iconic Purnell’s “Old Folks” headquartered in Simpsonville. The purchase is funded by a historic donation from Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company to Feeding Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative last month.
“When we started the Kentucky Hunger Initiative years ago, the goal was to build a network to connect farmers and agribusinesses to Kentucky’s food bank system,” Quarles said in a statement issued May 12. “Today’s announcement, bolstered by Kentucky Farm Bureau’s historical donation to the Hunger Initiative, is the perfect culmination of this work. Vulnerable Kentuckians affected by this global pandemic now have more access to the one and only Kentucky Proud Purnell’s ‘Old Folks’ sausage.”
The 10,080 pounds of sausage is sourced from a Kentucky producer out of Loretto who had lost a market due to processing plant slowdowns across the state and nation. When the producer contacted the Kentucky Department of Agriculture about the issue, the KDA was able to connect him with Purnell’s.
“Like many Kentuckians, I am saddened by the crop destruction and commodity waste we are seeing due to our economy being shut down,” Quarles added. “While we cannot promise a solution for every producer, this story illustrates how Kentucky’s ag community is committed to doing the best we can with the resources we have to maintain the supply chain for our farmers and consumers.”
The pork sausage was picked up by Dare To Care Food Bank in Louisville, where Quarles assisted the food bank’s volunteers in unloading the shipment, the statement said. The product will be distributed to hungry Kentuckians by way of Dare To Care; Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland in Elizabethtown; Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, which serves northern Kentucky; Tri-State Foodbank in Evansville, which serves Owensboro; Facing Hunger Foodbank in Huntington, West Virginia, which serves Eastern Kentucky; and the Paducah Area Development District.
“In this uniquely challenging time when need is suddenly rising while our food supply chain is stressed, we are thrilled with this creative, collaborative support that will provide Purnell’s sausage for so many struggling families,” said Brian Riendeau, Dare To Care’s executive director. “As longtime partners with Commissioner Quarles’ Hunger Initiative, we are grateful more families in Louisville and across the state will benefit from this Kentucky Proud product.”
Purnell’s “Old Folks” reduced the product’s cost, allowing Feeding Kentucky to purchase more pounds of sausage. Feeding Kentucky requested the sausage be packaged for easy distribution through the food bank system and the Kentucky company was happy to package the product into 10,080 1-pound rolls.
“This story – well, I guess there is only one way to say it – it’s gooo-od,” said Todd Purnell, president of Purnell’s. “We were happy to work with Commissioner Quarles and Feeding Kentucky to make this possible. The need is great, and I would encourage other agribusinesses in Kentucky to consider donating what they can to help out those who need us most right now.”
The statement said the purchase is possible only because of a historic $500,000 donation from Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company to hunger-relief charities as a part of Quarles’ Kentucky Hunger Initiative. The donation is the largest single private donation made as part of the effort since it launched in 2016.
“For those of us in the agriculture community, the concept of ‘neighbor helping neighbor’ is second nature; it’s what we do when a need arises,” said Mark Haney, president of Kentucky Farm Bureau. “Thanks to Purnell's 'Old Folks' Sausage, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Feeding Kentucky, we see a wonderful example of what it means to lend a helping hand as a collective community. Kentucky Farm Bureau is proud to have been able to be a part of the effort in feeding needy Kentuckians, especially during this time of uncertainty. Together, we will get through this by continuing to help our neighbors.”
The Kentucky Hunger Initiative was launched in 2016 by Quarles to bring together farmers, charitable organizations, faith groups, community leaders and government entities to reduce hunger in Kentucky. Learn more by visiting kyagr.com/hunger.