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Volunteer work to combat hunger earns recognition

Issue Date: March 24, 2021
By Christine Souza

Work donating food, funds and volunteer hours to people in need during 2020 has earned recognition for California Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers members.

The American Farm Bureau Federation honored California YF&R members for devoting the most volunteer hours during 2020—8,319—to its national Harvest for All campaign to feed hungry people.

Leah Groves, who chairs the California YF&R Contest Subcommittee that oversees Harvest for All activities in the state, said members across California dedicated hours, funds and resources to support the communities where they live.

"Especially in the time of COVID, our members stepped up and gave back to others that have lost so much and are struggling daily," Groves said. "We are all proud of how hard they have worked over this past year."

California YF&R members volunteered time during 2020 requesting donations, serving meals, gleaning fields and helping at food banks and school gardens, she said, adding that YF&R members "got creative by partnering with school systems, churches, blood drives, food banks, FFA livestock sales and county Farm Bureaus."

In recognizing California YF&R members for leading the nation in volunteer hours, AFBF noted the myriad tasks involved, such as preparing donated food, loading it into trailers and delivering it to distribution sites. Members also volunteered time to create fundraising appeals on social media, shop for Christmas presents for children at homeless shelters and package take-home meals for at-risk students.

California YF&R members also donated 1,205,240 pounds of food and $216,718 during 2020.

During the AFBF 2021 FUSION Reimagined Conference, held virtually earlier this month, the Florida Farm Bureau took top honors for donating food and raising money in 2020: 43 million pounds and $413,000.

With the support of Nationwide, state organizations received a $500 grant for each type of contribution, for donation to a local food bank or for another Harvest for All project.

Second-place winners were: New York Farm Bureau for donating 8 million pounds of food; Michigan Farm Bureau for $313,972 of donated funds; and Florida Farm Bureau for 7,182 volunteer hours. Each of the second-place winners received a $250 grant from Nationwide to donate to a local food bank.

In addition, the Illinois Farm Bureau YF&R Committee received a $250 grant from Nationwide for "most innovative" program: a Facebook fundraiser to help fight food insecurity during the pandemic.

Nationally, Farm Bureau farm and ranch families donated 53 million pounds of food and raised nearly $1.5 million to assist hungry Americans in 2020. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 53 million meals.

The YF&R donation program complemented Farm Bureau donations to support COVID-19 relief of $5.4 million and 1.4 million pounds of food, announced in January. In addition to raising food and money for the initiative, farmers and ranchers reported 22,570 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2020.

Now in its 19th year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of the Farm Bureau YF&R program, but members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort.

Since Harvest for All was launched, Farm Bureau families nationwide have gathered 376 million pounds of food, logged more than 215,000 volunteer hours and raised $9.8 million in donations.

"Hunger remains a concern for people from all walks of life, including many rural Americans and residents of farming communities," said Jon Iverson of Oregon, chair of the AFBF YF&R Committee. "Farm Bureau's longstanding commitment to helping put food on the tables of those in need through Harvest for All outreach is more important than ever as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue."

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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