Farmers feed families. That is a very simple statement and a statement that rings true across the country. Ask any Kansas farmer and they will tell you that one Kansas farmer feeds 154 people + you!
So what happens when farmers band together to feed households that are struggling to put meals on the table? The result is Invest An Acre (IAA), a program initiated by Howard Buffett and Feeding America to help feed people facing hunger in rural areas. Through this program, farmers can donate a portion of their proceeds to help families in their very own community get enough to eat. To make the gift even more impactful, Monsanto matches each donation – up to $675,000 each year.
When Invest An Acre was first announced, I knew this was an opportunity that the Kansas Food Bank needed to explore. I also knew it would be a tool to help our rural agencies provide missing meals for the families and individuals that seek assistance from them.
The Kansas Food Bank serves 85 counties, over 73,000 square miles. The majority of those counties are rural. Our delivery teams spends 15 days on the road every month delivering food to those counties and ensuring that no Kansans go hungry.
All of our rural partner food pantries and feeding agencies rely upon their communities to help fund their work. Whether it is the local church, business or civic group that is writing the check for support, agencies seek help directly from their own communities. The opportunity for a farmer to double his or her donation through Invest An Acre and help their local food pantry distribute more meals is a win-win scenario.
As one pantry partner stated to me upon learning about Invest An Acre: “Why wouldn’t we want to participate in this?” And I could not agree more with that statement. Our rural agencies know who the farmers are that already support them. Giving them the tools to help cultivate those donations has turned into more food they can consistently distribute to their neighbors in need.
For one agency, a single Invest An Acre gift funded their pantry for an entire year.
For another, they were able to add additional items of canned fruit and shelf stable milk to their pantry boxes. These were items that they were not able to provide before because they were cost prohibitive.
Invest An Acre has also helped us establish new partner feeding agencies in communities that were previously unserved. One of our very first IAA donations came from a community we had not served before. We had tried for years to bring the pantry on board as an agency of the Kansas Food Bank. That was three years ago. They have since become a great partner. They order monthly and rely upon us for fresh produce and meat – both items they did not have to distribute before we established a relationship through Invest An Acre.
Keeping donations local is the key to Invest An Acre. Mr. Buffett wanted farmers to make a difference in the communities where they live. With Invest An Acre, a farmer’s donation makes a direct impact for their local community. As the food bank, we ensure those gifts transfer into meals helping neighbors in need.
As we enter into our fourth year of participating in the Invest An Acre program, we are finding repeat donors. That tells me that the trust has been built and donors see the impact they are helping make. One donation doubles its impact. Why wouldn’t a farmer want to see his or her donation doubled? I encourage everyone who can to participate in Invest An Acre today and make a lasting difference in the lives of your neighbors in need.