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Farm Bureau support of Feeding America breaks records

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The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau last year raised more than $273,000 and donated more than 18 million pounds of food to hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau's "Harvest for All" program through Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations provided the equivalent of more than 16 million meals.

The money raised, food donated and meal equivalents in 2010 all shattered program records. The Harvest for All Program was established in 2003.

In fact, the 18 million pounds of food donated by Farm Bureau families in 2010 was nearly three times as great as the 6.7 million pounds donated in 2008, the previous record. The $273,000 in funds donated in 2010 surpassed the 2009 level of $213,000, which was also a record. And the number of meal equivalents served at 16 million exceeded the previous high of 6.4 million, also set in 2008, by nearly 10 million meal equivalents.

Members of Farm Bureau's Young Farmers & Ranchers program spearhead the Harvest for All program across the country, but all facets of Farm Bureau contribute to the effort. The joint effort between Farm Bureau and Feeding America is a national community-action program through which farmers and ranchers can help ensure that every American can enjoy the bounty produced by the nation's farm and ranch families.

"I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of Farm Bureau's young leaders for last year's record breaking performance in Harvest for All," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. "Once again, they have shown they are willing to go the extra mile when it comes to helping America's hungry and less fortunate.

"The success of Harvest for All has grown each and every year, with 2010's results being simply mind-boggling. But with the can-do spirit that is engrained in Farm Bureau, I know Farm Bureau members and YF&R leaders can make 2011 another record-breaking year for feeding America's hungry."

Aside from raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied 13,601 volunteer hours assisting hunger groups through the Harvest for All program in 2010. This is also a record, blowing away the previous record of 5,738 volunteer hours in 2008.

"This is clearly one for the record books. In every category measured, the Harvest for All program broke previous records with some very impressive numbers," said Ben LaCross, AFBF YF&R chair and a Cedar, Mich. cherry, plum and apple farmer. "Farm Bureau families who participate in Harvest for All should be extremely proud of what they have done.

"Young farmers and ranchers are committed to giving back to their local communities, and the Harvest for All program gives us an outlet to do just that. While we spend long hours growing our crops and livestock to feed consumers, this program allows us to serve those less fortunate."

According to LaCross, growth in this program is proof that Young Farmers and Ranchers around the nation are committed to the cause. The program's success also hinges on a solid partnership with Feeding America, he said.

"Feeding America is deeply appreciative of all the help and support we have received from the Farm Bureau's Harvest for All program," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "It has provided us with food and funds for many years, and has helped us to feed many people living on the verge of hunger."

The Illinois Farm Bureau took top honors for raising the most funds in 2010 at $137,087. The California Farm Bureau was number one in both food donated at 10.146 million pounds and volunteer time at 6,170 volunteer hours. Each YF&R Committee from the three winning states received a $1,500 grant from the American Farm Bureau Federation to donate to the food bank of their choice.

Second place winners were Indiana Farm Bureau for funds donated at $56,170; New York Farm Bureau for food donated at 5.175 million pounds; and Michigan Farm Bureau for volunteer time at 4,071 volunteer hours. Second place winners received a $1,000 grant from AFBF to donate to the food bank of their choice.

In addition, five state YF&R committees received $500 grants for "most innovative" programs. The winners are Illinois for its "Drive Out Hunger" collectible truck series; Indiana for its "County Quilt" auction item at state convention; Louisiana for its "Fleur de Lis" T-shirts; Michigan for its "Ag Expo Food Drive"; and North Dakota for its "Gunny Sack Challenge," dry bean and lentil bulk-food drive.

The awards were presented this month, during AFBF's YF&R Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Since Harvest for All was launched eight years ago, Farm Bureau families have gathered more than 38 million pounds of food, logged more than 49,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $1.2 million in donations. Combined, the food and money donations amount to more than 39 million meals.



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