Farmers, ranchers contribute to hunger program
The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau last year raised more than $556,273 and donated more than 10 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau's "Harvest for All" program through Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations provided nearly 13 million meals.
Members of Farm Bureau's Young Farmers & Ranchers program spearhead Harvest for All across the country, but all facets of Farm Bureau contribute to the effort. For the first time, 20 state Farm Bureaus heeded the call to action. The joint effort between Farm Bureau and Feeding America is a national community action program through which farmers and ranchers can help ensure every American enjoys the bounty they produce.
"The Harvest for All initiative is one of the most important community service efforts undertaken by Farm Bureau members, especially in these tough economic times," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. "I am proud that so many states--a record 20--participated this year. By joining together, we can help feed and nourish those who need help the most."
Aside from raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied 10,159 volunteer hours assisting hunger groups through Harvest for All in 2011.
"This effort clearly shows farmers and ranchers from across the nation are stepping up to the plate to ensure that all Americans have food on their dinner tables," said Glen Cope, AFBF YF&R chair and an Aurora, Mo., beef producer. "I am extremely proud to be part of Farm Bureau, and especially the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, whose members always go that extra mile to help those in need."
The Illinois Farm Bureau took top honors for raising the most funds and volunteer hours in 2011, raising $401,000 and volunteering 4,000 hours. The New York Farm Bureau was number one in food donated at 6 million pounds. By winning the three categories, Illinois received a $3,000 grant and New York received a $1,500 grant to donate to the food bank of their choice.
Second place winners were Indiana Farm Bureau for funds donated at $49,000; California Farm Bureau Federation for food donated at 1.4 million pounds; and Michigan Farm Bureau for volunteer time at 3,600 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 Maryland for its "Freezing for a Reason" activity; Virginia for its "Fresh Food for Virginia's Cooperative Project;" Michigan for its "Pick a Peck for People" activity; North Carolina for its "Fill a Truck" campaign; and Montana for its "Hoofin' it for Hunger 5K Walk/Run."
The awards were presented this month during AFBF's YF&R Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Since Harvest for All was launched nine years ago, Farm Bureau families have gathered more than 49 million pounds of food, logged nearly 60,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $1.8 million in donations. Combined, the food and money donations amount to more than 55 million meals.