WASHINGTON — The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau donated 26.3 million pounds of food and raised more than $494,000 to assist hungry Americans in 2019 as part of the organization’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 24.5 million meals.
The spirit of farm communities has always been one of working together and giving back. Now in its 18th year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. Their participation helps ensure Americans in need can enjoy the bounty of food farmers and ranchers produce.
In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied 14,400 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2019.
“Hunger remains a concern for many rural Americans and farming communities,” said Morgan Norris of Florida, chair of AFBF’s YF&R Committee. “Farm Bureau’s long tradition of helping put food on the tables of those in need through Harvest for All outreach is more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”
Florida Farm Bureau took top honors for donating the most food in 2019, 18 million pounds. Illinois Farm Bureau raised the most money, $205,900, and tallied the most volunteer hours, 7,035. Thanks to the generosity of Nationwide, these state organizations received a $500 grant (for each type of contribution) for donation to a local food bank of their choice or for another Harvest for All project.
Second-place winners were New York Farm Bureau for food donated at 7.3 million pounds; and Tennessee Farm Bureau for donated funds at $126,100 and volunteer time at 2,400 hours. Each of the second-place winners received a $250 grant (for each type of contribution) from Nationwide to donate to the local food bank of their choice.
Most Innovative Winners
In addition, three state YF&R committees received $250 grants from Nationwide for “most innovative” programs. Those winners were New Hampshire, New York and West Virginia.
New Hampshire Farm Bureau members focused on Thanksgiving food baskets for food-insecure families. This included farmer members raising turkeys, gathering fresh produce and canned goods, and delivery to those in need.
New York Farm Bureau members in Livingston County enhanced an annual “day on the farm” event by providing attendees with the opportunity to help pick sweet corn for donation to a local food pantry.
West Virginia Farm Bureau members collaborated with FFA members to pack 2,000 “backpack buddies” meals for school children and 500 food boxes for veterans. They also worked together to harvest 2.5 tons of sweet corn to donate to a local food bank.
The awards were presented during AFBF’s virtual Young Farmers & Ranches Conference. Since Harvest for All was launched, Farm Bureau families have gathered 323 million pounds of food, logged more than 193,000 volunteer hours and raised $8.3 million in donations.
— American Farm Bureau Federation