JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. — For the 10th straight year, Georgia Farm Bureau supported the Georgia Food Bank Association by making a financial donation during the 82nd Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Annual Convention, held Dec. 8-10 on Jekyll Island. Funds for the $22,924 donation were raised through Farm Bureau’s Harvest for All campaign, which included donations from county Farm Bureaus, the organization’s state office, and the GFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee’s “Calf’s Weight in Change” drive earlier this year.
“While we are blessed to have an abundance of food in America, too many among us still struggle to acquire enough food to sustain good health,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long. “We are happy to continue supporting the Georgia Food Bank Association and its programs through our Harvest for All donation.”
According to the Georgia Food Bank Association, food banks on average can provide four meals for every dollar they receive, meaning GFB’s donation will provide almost 100,000 meals.
The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), in its report, “Household Food Insecurity in the United States in 2018,” shows an average of 11.3 percent of Georgia households (approximately 1.1 million people) experienced food insecurity over the three-year period from 2016 to 2018, meaning that during that time those households experienced periods where their diets were reduced in quality, variety or desirability, or they had disrupted eating patterns or reduced food intake. ERS reported food insecurity in 11.1 percent (14.3 million) of households nationwide in 2018. Food insecurity has been linked to a variety of chronic health issues. The full report is available here.
Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap interactive tool, which tracks county-level hunger statistics, showed that 98 of Georgia’s 159 counties had food insecurity in more than 15 percent of their households. In Clay, Dougherty, Randolph and Terrell counties, more than 25 percent of households experienced food insecurity in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are cited in the Map the Meal Gap report. Clay County had the highest household food insecurity rate in the state, at 27.4 percent.
The Map the Meal Gap report indicated 1,501,680 food insecure people in Georgia in 2017, or 14.4 percent of the state’s total population. Nationally, the report estimated more than 40 million food insecure people.
Long and GFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee Chairman Ben Cagle presented the check to Georgia Food Bank Association Executive Director Danah Craft. The GFB Young Farmer Committee coordinated the Harvest for All Campaign.
In addition to helping with purchases of high-protein foods like chicken and peanut butter, donated money helps the GFBA offset costs associated with collecting and distributing food donations.
“We are grateful to the Young Farmers and Ranchers for their leadership in Georgia,” Craft said. “Harvest for All provides critical resources to the regional food banks, with the added benefit of making more farmers aware that they can donate to food banks in several ways. Georgia farmers generously donated more than 16 million pounds of fresh, nourishing produce to our network this year through the Farm to Food Bank Program.”
The GFBA started its Farm to Foodbank program in 2014, through which it accepts food donations directly from farmers, who give nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables that grocery chains won’t buy for aesthetic reasons. Donations of food by Georgia’s farmers provide millions of meals each year, which the GFBA attributes to its affiliation with Georgia Farm Bureau.
Georgia Farm Bureau’s Harvest for All donation will have a statewide impact. The Georgia Food Bank Association distributes the funds to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia in Savannah, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank (Food Bank of Northwest Georgia), Feeding the Valley in Columbus, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia in Athens, Golden Harvest in Augusta, the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank in Macon and Second Harvest of South Georgia in Valdosta. To see which counties each food bank serves, click here.
Past Harvest for All campaigns have solicited direct donations of food. Since 2004, GFB has coordinated 14 Harvest for All campaigns through which GFB members across the state donated about 49,000 pounds of staple food items and more than $220,000 in cash donations distributed to the food banks located throughout Georgia affiliated with Feeding America.
–Georgia Farm Bureau