Farm Bureau farm and ranch families last year raised more than $160,000 and donated more than 6.7 million pounds of food to hungry Americans through the organization's"Harvest for All" program. Combined, the monetary and food donations provided the equivalent of 6.4 million meals through Feeding America food banks across the country.
Both the money raised and food donated are the highest ever in the program's six- year history.
Members of Farm Bureau's Young Farmer program are spearheading Harvest for All across the nation. The joint effort between Farm Bureau and Feeding America, formerly named America's Second Harvest, is a national community-action program through which farmers can help ensure that every American can enjoy the bounty produced on America's farms and ranches.
"America's farmers and ranchers are committed to hunger relief through Harvest for All and Feeding America," said Mathew Meals, AFBF YF&R chairman, who owns and operates a 136-acre crop farm near Newville, Penn."Young farmers and ranchers know they are blessed to earn a living by providing food, fuel and fiber to America and the world. As Farm Bureau members, we are dedicated to helping those less fortunate than we are, and Harvest for All is a great way to share our bounty."
Aside from raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers logged in 5,738 volunteer hours to the Harvest for All program.
" We are deeply grateful to the Farm Bureau. Through their Harvest for All program, they make a tremendous contribution to our efforts to help provide food to millions of Americans who live at risk of hunger. Their donations of time, food, and funds have been invaluable to us. Their sustained efforts supporting us year after year have made a significant difference in the lives of many people." said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America.
The Illinois Farm Bureau YF&R Committee took top honors for raising the most funds at $66,978. The New York Farm Bureau was number one in food donated at 3,986,592 pounds. The top honor for volunteer time went to the Michigan Farm Bureau YF&R Committee at 1,954 hours. Each first place YF&R Committee winner was presented $3,000 by the American Farm Bureau for being top producers in each of the three categories.
The Illinois YF&R Committee also received second place in donations of food and volunteer hours while the Indiana YF&R Committee received second place honors in funds donated. Second place winners received $2,000.
In addition, five state YF&R Committees received $1,000 for most innovative programs. The winners are North Dakota for its"Fill the Dome" food drive; Michigan for its 4-H Club, county Farm Bureau food drive contest; Kansas for its"Food 4 Kids" fundraiser at the Kansas Farm Bureau annual meeting; Illinois for its"Penny Wars" county farm bureau yearlong fundraising competition and Indiana for its traveling"Piggy Bank Competition."
Since Harvest for All was launched six years ago, Farm Bureau families have gathered nearly 16 million pounds of food, logged more than 30,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $778,000 in donations. Combined, the food and monetary donations amount to nearly 18 million meals.
AFBF President Bob Stallman said support for Feeding America through the Harvest for All program remains an important priority for Farm Bureau this year."The effort is all the more important in these difficult economic times," Stallman said."As the economic crisis worsens, more people will rely on food banks to help feed themselves and their families. Farm Bureau is committed to help meet this need through Harvest for All."
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