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Food bank makes notable advances

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Editorial: Dec. 29, 2011

ISSUE: Feeding America's leadership change
OUR VIEW: Program's success is praiseworthy

Gary Miles says he feels it’s time to slow down a bit, relax and enjoy his other life interests. After more than 13 years as executive director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, Miles retires Jan. 1 and will pass along the reigns of leadership at the food bank.

Don Fulford, former president and CEO of the John Cleveland Foundation-Life Adventure Center in Versailles, has been selected to succeed Miles.

The 42 Kentucky counties and now more than 240 partner agencies that have been served through FAKH owe many thanks to Miles for accomplishments during his tenure. None, however, could be more appreciative than the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians whose tables have had warm meals placed upon them as a result of the food bank’s effort.

A true servant at heart, Miles has steered Feeding America through a course of growth and development. According to its records, the food bank’s annual distribution of donated food and grocery products was 5 million pounds the year Miles stepped into the executive director’s role. Last year, that total had doubled to slightly more than 10 million pounds distributed to counties across central and southwestern Kentucky through the bank’s member agencies.

Other highlights from the past 13 years also reveal the impact Miles’ presence has had on the organization.

During his span of leadership, in order to more efficiently handle the volume of food, groceries and government commodities it procures and distributes, FAKH relocated from separate office and warehouse space made available by First Federal Savings Bank and Bob Swope Ford, to its current facilities on Peterson Drive in Elizabethtown.

Miles, his board of directors, staff and small brigade of volunteers successfully rebranded the organization through multiple identities. From its early foundation as Kentucky Food Bank in 1982, it morphed into America’s Second Harvest of Kentucky’s Heartland in 2000 and on to the organization’s current identity as Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland. It maintained a consistent vision of working to ensure no one in the service area goes to bed hungry.

Other highlights noted in the organization’s history during Miles’ term have included the Kid’s Café and rural delivery program launched in 2011; the Commodity Supplemental Food Program Senior Boxes launched in 2003; the addition of the Purchase Area Food Bank in 2008 extending FAKH’s reach to southwestern Kentucky; and growth to more than 210 member distribution agencies in 2009.

Miles identified the backpack program, which now provides more than 5,000 children across 30 counties with food items to carry them through school-year weekends.

He also cites significant growth of the organization’s volunteer base as being among the accomplishments of which he is most proud.

Miles is set to remain on hand during an interim period in a consultative role to assist Fulford and the organization through the transition. When commenting on his time with the food bank, Miles said, “We’ve come a long way and accomplished a lot, but there are more things the new director can do to take the organization to new heights.”

These are humble and fitting words from a humble and effective leader. On behalf of a thankful network of communities across the commonwealth, thank you, Gary Miles, for all you accomplished with and through Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.