New KY law aims to reduce food waste, and feed children this summer

Instead of preparing for school on Sunday evening, many kids across the Bluegrass will soon be enjoying their first official day of summer vacation.

However, with that excitement comes anxiety for thousands of families in the Bluegrass who rely on school breakfasts and lunches.

"We were so worried about frivolous lawsuits that we were willing to throw it away instead of actually feed the hungry," said Phillip Pratt, State Representative for the 62nd district.

Hungry children and excessive food waste just didn't sit right with Kentucky lawmakers this past legislative session.

"It's growing, I think it's like one out of six now go hungry on the weekends," said Pratt.

With summer vacation rolling in, the reliance on food pantries and outreach programs is set to spike.

"We're hoping to have more than 2,200 sites in Kentucky, that will provide almost 2.5 million breakfasts, lunches, and snacks," said Danielle Bozarth with God's Pantry of Lexington.

Bozarth says together with the Department of Education, many children will be fed while school is in recess. She expects the new law targeting food waste to help in those initiatives. "It's a win-win for food banks," said Bozarth.

According to experts, 30 to 40 percent of America's food supply is wasted. Representative Pratt of Georgetown says that's because stores fear getting sued.

"I actually talked with one grocery store chain owner who said not only did he throw it away, they put a padlock on their dumpster so that people would not climb in there, eat the food, then turn around and sue them," said Pratt.

Welcome House Bill 237 that was signed into law during the 2017 legislative session. Pratt says it will go into effect July 1st, and will protect businesses from getting sued for donating food.

"This is not bad or expired food. Pick up a box of cereal. It says best use by date. Once it hits that date they will no longer sell it," said Pratt, "Those are just suggestions, but not law."

Both representatives and food bank organizers expect to see big results, and full bellies thanks to the bill all summer long.

House Bill 237 passed committee and was signed by Governor Bevin in March.

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