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Food-Waste Law Aims to Help Kentucky's Hungry

About 40 percent of food in the United States ends up in the trash, but Kentucky is making a greater effort to curb this waste. (Nick Saltmarsh/Flickr)
About 40 percent of food in the United States ends up in the trash, but Kentucky is making a greater effort to curb this waste. (Nick Saltmarsh/Flickr)
May 24, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. - About 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown into the trash, and a new state law in Kentucky could reduce food waste while helping feed people in need.

The federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act already encourages food-related businesses to donate food that otherwise would go to waste by offering protection from criminal and civil liability. Now, a state law reinforces it. Gov. Mike Bevin signed House Bill 237, which Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles said offers enhanced immunity for donors.

"We had found that there are organizations out there that wanted to donate food but were hesitant to do that because they were afraid of a frivolous lawsuit," Quarles said, "and so this bill provides that legal assurance that they can donate food without fear of litigation."

The new law provides grocery stores, restaurants, caterers and other organizations protection from liability because of the nature, age, packaging or condition of the food donated. It also clarifies the definition of "apparently fit grocery product" as an item that meets all consumer-safety standards regardless of date labeling.

One in six Kentuckians struggles with hunger, and Quarles noted that many are children and seniors.

"Regardless of how affluent a neighborhood may be, the face of hunger is hard to identify because some folks are embarrassed to admit that they have a food-security issue in their household," he said. "Sometimes, it's not linked with income at all. Sometimes, it has to do with a transitory period in people's lives."

HB 237 was developed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Hunger Initiative, which Quarles said is working to maximize opportunities to get food to struggling Kentuckians.

"This is an 'all hands on board' initiative," he said, "and that includes our food banks and even the Farm to Food Banks program the Department of Agriculture runs, which buys produce that otherwise would rot in the field, harvests it and gets it into the hands of those who need it the most."

Details of HB 237 are online at legiscan.com.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY