FFA Members Attack Hunger One Community at a Time
FFA Members Attack Hunger One Community at a Time
With one in six Kentuckians identified as food insecure, hunger is a huge issue facing communities across the state- and across the state local FFA members and chapters are doing their part to eliminate hunger in a variety of ways. According to State FFA Advisor Brandon Davis hunger related initiatives are a perfect fit for the FFA organization. “Our vision is “Growing Leaders, Building Communities, and Strengthening Agriculture.” Hunger related projects allow FFA members to experience all three components directly and personally.”
Food Collection and Distribution
A number of chapters are involved in collecting and distributing non-perishable food items to those who are less fortunate. Jessamine County FFA’s food drive is in its 61st year and may be the oldest continuous FFA service project in the nation. Jessamine County’s food drive includes a school wide assembly at each of the county’s two high schools followed by FFA members delivering food baskets to dozens of families in the community.
Clark County FFA works with community groups such as Clark County Farm Bureau to produce and deliver around 80 Thanksgiving food baskets each year. One FFA member- Madison Williams- is donating money earned from her cattle project. According to FFA Advisor Terra Pigg, Madison’s generosity will help provide food for around 40 families!
Clark County FFA collected enough food for 100 families in their food drive. They worked with Clark County Farm Bureau and other local businesses to provide each family with a turkey, eggs, and rolls as well. .
Taylor County FFA’s 4th annual food drive collected over 9,000 non-perishable food items which will be donated to Green River Ministries. Their school wide food drive is a contest between first period classes and a design contest. The class that donates the most food items wins a breakfast party and the class with the best display gets a rotating plaque and bragging rights. This year’s theme was “Magic Candom” and classes constructed Disney themed displays out of non-perishable items in the school gym.
Weekends and holiday breaks can be scary times for students who depend on school breakfast and lunch to provide their daily nutrition. Backpack programs attempt to address this by sending easy to prepare food items home with these students to help them make it through breaks.
In August, Marion County FFA members donated funds to adopt one student through Feeding America's backpack progrram. Thakns to their generosity, this student gets a back of 14-17 items slipped into thier backpack each weekend. Feeding America provides backpacks to around 6.000 students each week across Central Kentucky.
Each Friday, Bourbon County FFA members work to pack around 30 backpacks for students in their school. Last school year, the grant which had provided food items ran out, so the chapter stepped up to sponsor a food drive. They collected over 800 items such as ravioli, snack crackers, and juice boxes which allowed the program to continue throughout the school year. In January, they will be working with 4-H and the county Farm Bureau to sponsor a coat and food drive to further benefit the backpack program.
When Bourbon County's packpack program ran out of money, the FFA chapter stepped up to collect over 800 easy to prepare items including those pictured above.
Other chapters provide man-power to community groups that work to address hunger issues locally. Sixteen members of the Madison Southern FFA volunteered to process and load groceries at the Madison County Day of Hope this year. According to one of the event organizers, “The FFA members were great- we couldn’t have done it without them!”
For the past several years, LaRue County FFA members have spent a day of National FFA Week volunteering to pack food at Feeding America in Elizabethtown. Around 40 chapter members give up an afternoon to provide man-power to help the organization package and prepare bulk foods for delivery. In 2017, their work helped feed 2,592 children.
LaRue County members helped feed 2,592 children as volunteers for Feeding America during National FFA Week.
Other chapters are taking what they’ve learned in the classroom about producing food and applying it to the challenge of local hunger. This year Rowan County FFA grew and donated 70 pounds of sweet potatoes which were given away at the local commodity distribution day. For the last two years Cooper FFA members in Boone County have grown produce in raised beds for donation to the local food bank.
Southwestern FFA in Somerset has a flock of chickens that produce eggs which are donated to those in need. The chapter takes the project a step further by teaching community members how to care for their own chickens. Two to three well cared for chickens can provide enough eggs to supply a normal family with healthy protein on an ongoing basis.
Boyle County FFA is putting their raised bed gardens and high tunnel to good use in addressing hunger in their community. From March-October, chapter members raise tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, kale, potatoes and other vegetables which are distributed through the school’s backpack program. Six chapter members manage the garden through the summer months as part of their supervised agricultural experience programs. For the past three years, they have averaged over 800 pounds of produce per year! According to Youth Service Director Sandra Clark, this has provided a huge benefit to families, “The fresh produce that FFA provides for families has been a nutritional addition to our weekend backpack program, for some families, this is the only way they can afford it."
Boyle County FFA members produced over 800 pounds of fresh produce for distribution through the school's backpack program.
Nicholas County FFA members are producing both fresh vegetables and protein for their community. Chapter members feed and care for a flock of 35 laying hens and a small garden. Eggs and produce are distributed through the school’s Youth Service Center. To date, Nicholas County FFA has donated over 100 dozen eggs and enough produce for several families. They also hosted a Fall on the Farm Day which taught students about nutrition, food insecurity, and food production. They recently expanded their flock of laying hens and have plans to expand their garden in 2018.
Nicholas County FFA members produce vegetables and fresh eggs which are distributed through their school's Youth Service Center.
While these FFA chapter’s efforts to combat hunger feed hungry people in the short term, they shape the lives of FFA members in the long term. LaRue County FFA Advisor Misty Bivens says, “Until you make hunger real to members they really don’t understand it. This helps members give back to the community and realize that hunger is a real issue in our community.”
According to State FFA Advisor Brandon Davis the hope is that members will adopt service as a way of life. “Our motto includes the line “living to serve.” We genuinely believe that FFA members who experience service on a personal level will be committed to service throughout their lives.”