FFA members fight hunger home and abroad
From coast to coast, FFA members are working to curb hunger in their individual communities, thanks to a partnership among the National FFA Organization, Farm Journal Foundation’s Farmers Feeding the World initiative and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
FFA: Food For All grants were recently awarded to 140 FFA chapters in 39 states. Each of the chapters received up to $2,500 to fund their local and international sustainable hunger relief projects.
The ambitious efforts range from community gardens, poultry and aquaculture projects to programs that provide children in local school districts with food to take home.
The grant program sparked a new level of engagement in the fight against hunger at the grassroots level. The Linn-Mar FFA of Marion, Iowa, is just one example of a chapter that had never focused on a community hunger relief project prior to receiving the grant. The group will donate food raised by FFA members to the hungry.
"They were excited about giving fish and vegetables we are going to grow in the greenhouse to the shelters in the Cedar Rapids and Marion communities," explains Barb Lemmer, adviser for the Linn-Mar FFA.
Small schools can have big goals for battling hunger, as proven by the Ridgemont FFA of Ridgeway, Ohio.
Inspired by the high poverty rate in its county, this grant recipient, at a school of 150 students, developed a multifaceted strategy that allows students in every age group to take an active role.
The new "Backpack Buddies" program, managed by the freshman class, is one way the students hope to make a difference. The backpacks each contain two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks.
In addition to the weekend backpack program, the chapter distributes materials for container gardens, holds an event to educate elementary school students and maintains an online community to connect schools in the U.S. with schools in other countries.
The students at Ridgemont FFA are joined by many other chapters in the grant program in focusing on food to make a global impact for good.
Helping Other Farmers
Farmers Feeding the World recently made its largest single donation to date, giving $1 million to Heifer International.
The donation goes to help folks who are hungry to help themselves. Heifer International is committed to helping underdeveloped areas in the U.S. and developing countries gain footing in agriculture production to benefit their economies.
The grant will fund sustainable hunger relief projects already in action such as Heifer’s Seeds of Change in Appalachia and the Arkansas Delta, Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti (REACH), the Integrated Livestock Development Project in Sierra Leone, and the Small Farmer Project, which develops smallholder agriculture in Armenia.
Partnering together, Farmers Feeding the World and Heifer International are giving thousands of families around the globe and in the U.S. the tools to pull themselves out of poverty permanently.