Recently, Feeding America sat down to speak with Chris Soules - TV star and Iowa farmer - about why he is passionate about fighting hunger in America and how he is doing his part.
Q: How did you learn about Feeding America and why did you decide to get involved?
CS: Hunger is real issue, and as a farmer, one that is close to my heart. Shockingly, 48 million Americans struggle with hunger each year. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. To ensure we are prepared to provide enough food for everyone, building awareness of hunger, making advances in agricultural technology, and support from organizations like Feeding America and programs like Invest An Acre will all be crucial in meeting the need, particularly in rural areas.
I think it is important to use my new platform to help causes that are important to me. As a farmer, hunger awareness is naturally something that I care about. After doing some research, I found that Feeding America is at the forefront of fighting hunger and creating awareness of the issue.
Q: Why is a program like Invest An Acre important to connect farmers to their neighbors in need?
CS: It’s our job as farmers to feed people. We are working diligently to provide food globally, but need to remember that there are people in the farming communities and rural towns across the country who are also experiencing food insecurity. The first step in helping others is always awareness, and I hope to play a role in that effort.
Q: What do you want other Americans to know about farmers and people who live in rural communities?
CS: We’ve seen a trend in urban migration lately, which means each generation becomes one additional step removed from agriculture. This leads people to have questions about where their food comes from and how farmers are able to provide sustainable food sources for a growing population. Farmers are some of the most intelligent, yet humble people I have ever met. Sometimes we’re so focused on production that we don’t take the time necessary to share our story and how food is produced with our fellow Americans.
Q: Why are farmers so important in this country?
CS: U.S. farmers provide reliable, safe and affordable food for people all over the world. It’s imperative that the food we eat is not only readily available, but that those consuming the food know that it is safe. Farmers pride themselves on being providers. In fact, it’s the same food we feed our own families at the dinner table. Farming is a big job with many responsibilities – we keep this country going and we want the most talented, resilient individuals who care about feeding the world in that role.
Q: Tell us about your farm! How many generations has your family been farming? What do you grow/raise?
CS: I was raised on a farm outside of Lamont, Iowa. Today, I mark the third generation to own and operate Soules Farms, in partnership with my parents, Gary and Linda. Together we farm over 5,500 acres of land, primarily focused on corn and soybean production. In addition, our family turns approximately 20,000 hogs annually through a wean-to-finish operation.
Q: What’s special about being from Iowa?
CS: The Midwest is a great place to live, and I’m proud to call Iowa home. When it comes to agriculture and my livelihood, I’m pleased that Iowa farmers grow more corn and soybeans, raise more pigs, and produce more eggs than any other state in the nation. On top of that, it’s a great place to raise a family. In Iowa, we uphold strong values and are always willing to lend a helping hand to neighbors.
Q: How have your experiences – as a farmer, on television, traveling the country – shaped your desire to help other people?
CS: I have always been and will always be a farmer. It is what I love – and being involved with agriculture is something I will do for the rest of my life. I want to use my experiences to become an ambassador and a spokesman for today's farmer and to help feed the world.
Q: What values have you learned from growing up in a rural, agricultural community?
CS: Growing up on a farm, you learn a lot from others and a lot about yourself. I watched my parents and grandparents spend hours upon hours working the land to provide for our family and feed others. That work ethic and sense of giving is something they instilled in me at a very young age. I also grew up in a close-knit community. In rural communities, you get to know everyone and their families. Everyone chips in when someone is in need – whether that’s assisting an elderly member of the community with harvest or families stopping by with congratulatory meals to welcome a new baby. It surprised me to learn many towns are actually affected by hunger. But I know that if we continue to spread awareness and do our part, like the community I grew up in did, a hunger-free America can one day be a reality.Tags: Innovative Solutions to Hunger , Rural Hunger