There’s a Mr. Rogers quote that often gets thrown around in times of crisis.
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
There are a lot of helpers these days, including farmers who are coming together to give back to their communities.
Guernsey County Farm Bureau coordinated the donation of a steer and a hog to a local food pantry through the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program.
Kathi Albertson, the local coordinator for Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, brought up the idea to the farm bureau board at its monthly meeting.
“I asked the farm bureau how I could get farmers to donate animals,” she said.
The farm bureau board jumped into action. Randy Raber, of Red Hill Farm, to donate a steer, and Tiffany Smith donated a hog.
“It’s just a whole bunch of people helping our neighbors who need the food,” she said. “I’m inspired by all these people.”
More than 1,000 pounds of beef and a 170 pounds of pork is going to the Grace Food Pantry, in Cambridge, Ohio. Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry pays for donated deer and livestock to be processed and distributed to local assistance programs. The local program is funded through donations from Walmart, Cambridge Kiwanis Foundation and Gulfport Energy Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.
Events and conferences canceled because of COVID-19 brought about a silver lining of sorts. It left some groups with extra time and money.
“We were supposed to sponsor a couple events in the spring. They were canceled,” said Charlie Finton, of the Tuscarawas County Dairy Farmers Committee. “We thought, what if we do something to help somehow.”
The dairy farmers committee teamed up with the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau to purchase more than 2,000 gallons of milk from the New Philadelphia Walmart to distribute to school families.
“I don’t care who you are or what you are, everybody is struggling right now in one shape or another,” Finton said. “So I thought what if we just hand a gallon of milk out to everybody as they come through the school meal line.”
The groups donated about 2,100 gallons of milk the weeks of April 21 and 28. People saw what was happening and donated money, allowing the groups to donate milk for a third week.
“The third week will happen all because of donations,” Finton said.
He said the milk donation project grew much larger than he ever anticipated when he first pitched the idea to the dairy committee. He’s thankful for all the support they’ve gotten.
“It’s about doing what we can to help other people,” he said. “We’re dairy farmers. If we’re going to hand something out, it’s going to be milk. And people love it.”
It was a similar story with Pennsylvania’s Butler County Farm Bureau and the county dairy promotion group.
Marburger Farm Dairy, a Butler County dairy processor, was sending milk to be given out at a drive-through food distribution the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank was holding at the Big Butler Fairgrounds April 28. The local ag groups pledged money to buy some of the milk and sent volunteers to help hand out food and milk.
“We thought we might as well help local farms and farmers with this money that we didn’t spend,” said William Thiele, a board member with the Butler County Farm Bureau and a dairy farmer. “We brainstormed some ideas. Then it snowballed.”
More than 1,000 gallons of milk were distributed at the fairgrounds distribution.
More helping hands:
• Marion County Farm Bureau’s annual Farmer’s Care Breakfast, scheduled for March 21, was canceled because of COVID-19. Hord Family Farms had already processed, packaged and donated several hundred pounds of sausage for the event.
That meat still went to feed the community. The Hord family and Marion County Farm Bureau decided to donate 500 pounds of pork to the St. Vincent de Paul Society food pantry in Marion.
• Knox County worked with Case Farms to purchase chicken for the county Hot Meals programs. More than 600 pounds of chicken was donated to feed families in Knox County.
“By purchasing chicken from Case Farms, the company that several Knox County farm families grow poultry for, farm bureau was able to help get food from farm to table in homes of many senior citizens in our county,” said Kim Hawk, Knox County Farm Bureau Board of Trustees member and local Case Farms grower.
• Erie County Farm Bureau is donating milk and dairy products to Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.
• Brown County Farm Bureau members are volunteering at the Helping Hands food pantry to keep it running and donate milk to the pantry.
• Highland County Farm Bureau donated 300 gallons of milk to its local food pantry.
(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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