April 14, 2024

Farmers are working together to fight food insecurity

Focus on Agriculture

Farm Bureau members in Illinois collected food donations for local communities through a Harvest for All “Cram-The-Cab” initiative.

Food insecurity forces families to make unimaginable choices each day, such as choosing between paying rent or putting food on the table. In a country known for its robust agricultural industry, it is disheartening to know just how many people struggle with hunger.

In the United States, one in 10 people are currently facing hunger, according to Feeding America. In my home state of Illinois alone, there are more than 1.2 million people, including over 315,000 children, struggling with food insecurity.

These statistics are alarming and shed light on a harsh reality for many people in our country. That is why it is so important for us to come together as a community to support and uplift our most vulnerable populations through programs such as Farm Bureau’s Harvest for All campaign.

Now wrapping up its 22nd year, Harvest for All seeks to fight hunger through donations of food, money and volunteer hours to local food banks and pantries across the country.

Farmers continue to step up to address food insecurity and contribute to this nationwide effort by participating in county and state Farm Bureau campaigns led by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, known as the Young Leader program in Illinois.

I am proud to report that, in 2023, Illinois Farm Bureau volunteers donated 88,582 pounds of food, raised $47,394 and volunteered 2,534 hours to local food banks and food pantries.

These efforts, combined with those of other members across the country, yielded an impressive national total of 31 million pounds of food, $425,879 and 21,571 volunteer hours.

It is outstanding to see so many members across the nation, including young farmers and students who belong to a Collegiate Farm Bureau, joining forces with local organizations and businesses to make a tangible difference in the lives of those facing food insecurity.

The creativity and innovation they display demonstrates the generosity of the agricultural community. Finding new and engaging ways to fight food insecurity — such as a March Madness Bracket Challenge — shows our members’ dedication.

Other, long-running campaigns to raise funding for local food banks, such as selling donated grain to local elevators, have also been extremely successful, in some cases for nearly two decades.

Fighting food insecurity is a collective effort. Many state Farm Bureaus join forces with other organizations to support and amplify efforts.

Two great examples from my home state that benefited food banks are the Illinois Pork Producers’ Pork Power campaign that donated more than 1 million pounds of pork and an Illinois Milk Producers Association initiative that donated 10,000 pounds of milk, including lactose free-options.

Farmers remain dedicated to feeding the world, and sometimes it is up to us to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors have access to fresh, nutritious food.

Farm Bureau’s Harvest for All program is the perfect opportunity for farmers to collaborate with local businesses and organizations to fight food insecurity.

I am thankful for generous members across the country for taking time from their busy schedules to help address hunger in their communities.

I also encourage participation from all Farm Bureau members as the Harvest for All program enters its 23rd year.

Brian Duncan is president of Illinois Farm Bureau.