NORMAL, Ill. — A crop protection company, youth leadership
group and hotel recently joined forces in the battle against hunger.
Through the efforts of Syngenta, the Illinois FFA officers
and the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel, about 24 boxes of food were gathered
and delivered to the Midwest Food Bank. Each box contained enough food to feed a
family of four three meals per day for a week.
About 95 Syngenta sales representatives, agronomy service
representatives, district managers, account development representatives and
customer marketing team members were on hand for the meeting and food drive.
“We spent most of the day connecting our people with our
culture, our ambition, our strategy and how it’s about bringing plant potential
to life, and we really wanted to bring it to life by making a contribution with
the community outreach program,” said Jerry Johnson, head of Syngenta’s
Heartland East Commercial Unit.
“So we partnered with the Midwest Food Bank, and we
partnered with the Illinois FFA to help us with awareness of food issues here in
the U.S. A big part of what we do is about producing food, so we’re seeing it
all the way through to people that are not as fortunate as we are.”
The recently installed Illinois FFA officers served as team
leaders to assist each group in collecting specific food items for each box.
“We were invited by Syngenta and Midwest Food Bank to
participate in packaging food. The packages will be distributed across the state
to families that need food and don’t know where their next meal will come from,”
said Illinois FFA President Sam Detwiler of Flanagan.
“In FFA, we really like to participate in activities like
this where we can give back to the community in numerous ways. These food
packages won’t just effect Bloomington-Normal, but rather than entire
“We’re honored to be invited to this. Hunger is such an
important issue, and it’s getting larger, it grows and grows every day. So for
us to be able to give back like this is really amazing, and we’re very happy to
With more than 30 million Americans going to be hungry each
night, the FFA has made a concerted effort to play a role in helping those in
need through its Harvest for All program.
Harvest for All is sponsored by the Illinois Farm Bureau
Young Leaders group, which encourages FFA chapters to host local food drives.
Detwiler said one example of the group’s efforts in
providing for the needy is the upcoming FFA Camp in Monticello.
“We’re sending out information to all of the campers coming
down to bring a bag of food,” he said. “We collected all of that food and send
it to the Illinois Farm Bureau and they keep a tally of how many pounds come in
and how much money is raised and they distribute that food right away.
“Some chapters will bring in food, others will raise money
and others donate their service and their time.”
The Midwest Food Bank facilities in Bloomington and Peoria
provide for food pantries throughout Illinois, and the need continues to
“Demand continues to go up. Over the last three years, we’ve
seen at least a 60 percent increase in the amount of food going to each food
pantry. That’s a lot of food,” said Mike Hoffman, Midwest Food Bank director of
operations. “For the last two years, we’ve averaged over a 30 percent increase
per year. Every bit helps.”
The Bloomington-based food bank serves an area from Rockford
to St. Louis, “in kind of sweeping section,” Hoffman said. “We have food banks
as far away as Saline County in Harrisburg. That’s about a four-hour drive away,
and we go up into Rockford and North Chicago.
“The Bloomington food bank has 235 food pantries that come
and pickup food from us on a regular basis.”
Hoffman, who was on hand for the Syngenta and FFA effort,
expressed his appreciation.
“Just the fact that a group of people get together to
package enough food for families that are in great need, this is going to go a
long way locally for helping local families who really need food,” he said.
“When people pick up food and see a box full of food, there
will be tears because they don’t have anything and this is a bunch. To me and
you, maybe it’s not so much, but it is a lot of food.”
This marked the first time Syngenta partnered with the
Midwest Food Bank.
“It’s awesome that they reached out to us and asked us if
we’d be interested,” Hoffman said.
“We get a lot of different requests from different
organization and just to be able to get more exposure to the fact of the need
out there and for people to be able to partner and to help, it means a lot.
There are so many great corporations in this whole world that are helping a lot
“When people care enough to not only donate the food, they
could have donated the food and dropped it off at the food bank, but to actually
have people getting involved, all of the people in this room have now been able
to experience of packaging something and doing something for somebody else, and
there’s not anybody here who doesn’t feel good about what they just did.
Hopefully, that encourages them to continue to do that.”