Doug Ducey, Tom Kertis

Gov. Doug Ducey and Tom Kertis, left, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, load turkeys into shopping carts on Tuesday, part of the assembly line to provide food baskets to about 70,000 families.

PHOENIX — The Governor’s Office is championing a new food bank program aimed to get local produce into the hands of the needy.

Governor Doug Ducey last week announced the “Friends of the Farm” program, an initiative that seeks to deliver fresh food to food banks across Arizona.

“Through a $250,000 investment, the innovative ‘farm to food bank’ program is a partnership between the Association of Arizona Food Banks and Arizona’s agriculture industry that will bring more fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein to food banks as well as create a reliable new market for Arizona farmers.” a release from the Governor’s Office stated.

The state has provided $2 million in the past two years to food banks to fund equipment replacements and provide more fresh food to Arizona families.

Arizona is tied for the fifth-worst state overall for food insecurity. One in four children, one in five adults and one in seven seniors struggle with hunger according to statistics provided by Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank.

Data provided by the Association of Arizona Food Banks show that school breakfast participation has been steadily rising over the past decade.

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