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Agrimarketing : April 2012
people, particularly children, who have gone hungry was sobering. With children of my own, it really hit home to know that sometimes the only food many kids get is at school. That’s why I think the Harvest for All program is so important. I know that the money and food we contribute goes toward important Feeding America programs, like “Kid’s Café,” which is the largest charitable meal service and nutrition education program exclusively for children, and the “Backpack Program,” which provides food to school children on weekends when free and reduced-price school lunches are unavailable. RECORD PARTICIPATION Each February, our Harvest for All efforts culminate at the annual YF&R conference where more than 1,000 young farmers and ranchers attend. There is an awards ceremony to recognize state Farm Bureaus who donated the most food, money and time the previous year. This past year, a record 20 states participated! Winning states receive a $1,500 grant to donate to a food bank of their choice and states who come in second place receive a $1,000 grant for a food bank. Those states with the most innovative ideas, like Maryland and North Carolina, receive a $500 grant to give to a food bank. I am proud to say that the farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau last year raised more than $556,273 and donated more than 10 million pounds of food. Combined, the monetary and food donations provided nearly 13 million meals. Harvest for All is important, not only to those who benefit from it, but also to those members of Farm Bureau who volunteer their time to help make it a success. When your occupation and goal is to ensure that everyone has access to healthy and nutritious food, it can be heartbreaking to see that some have to go without. And while members of the YF&R program spearhead Harvest for All, we couldn’t do it without the help and support from the thousands of Farm Bureau members who contribute to the effort. In fact, aside from raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied 10,159 volunteer hours assisting hunger efforts in 2011. This coming year, it is my personal goal to get more states involved. We had a record 20 this past year, but I know we can do better! I am challenging more state Farm Bureaus to get involved and I’m encouraging those states who already participate to break their own records with more food, money and volunteer time contributions. The real challenge is to do more, do better and have fun while doing it! GETTING INVOLVED In saying that, it’s easy for agribusiness groups to get involved with the effort. For example, the United Soybean Board generously sponsored $10,000 in awards this past year. All of which went to a food bank in the end. Agribusiness groups can also partner with state and local YF&R groups on volunteer efforts. It’s as simple as offering a location to collect food or helping to glean a farmer ’s field. Agribusiness groups can also help out financially by contributing to their local YF&R’s Harvest for All campaign or purchasing produce from a local farmer and donating it to the effort. The possibilities to get involved are limitless. And there couldn’t be a better time than now. Forty-six percent of households receiving help from Feeding America have to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel. This shouldn’t be happening in our country. Ultimately, it should be our goal that the amount of food needed to feed hungry Americans is zero. When the economy improves and the unemployment rate drops we can hope that our neighbors will be in a position where they no longer have to lean on projects such as Harvest for All for help. I think we can all say that we hope and pray that there will come a time when we no longer need food banks and food assistance programs. But, until that day, I know that Farm Bureau members will step up and do what they can to help those who need it most. Whether it’s a bushel, a dollar or an hour, every little bit helps. AM April 2012 I Agri Marketing 17 Young farmers and ranchers at the 2012 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, MI, repack bulk frozen black eyed peas into family size portions for a food bank in the area. Glen Cope is a fourth generation cattle rancher in southwest Missouri and Chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. 16 APRIL Thinking Outside Box_16 Thinking Outside Box 4/9/12 1:28 PM Page 17