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JEFFERSON CITY – Like many activities this year, the 2020 Missouri Farmers Care (MFC) Drive to Feed Kids looked a little different. However, the mission – to raise awareness of childhood food insecurity and raise support for food banks across the state – became more critical in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Farmers and ranchers work 365 days a year to produce abundance from our farms and ranches,” said Ashley McCarty, Missouri Farmers Care executive director. “The Drive to Feed Kids addresses the disconnect where that abundance doesn’t reach our neighbors’ dinner tables. Adjusting to the challenges of 2020, this yearlong Drive encompassed numerous impactful activities. We are again heartened by the generosity of Missouri agriculture that shines through the Drive to Feed Kids.”
In May 2020, the Missouri Pork Association and Missouri Farmers Care united to create the Pork Partnership. The mission of the Partnership was to help bridge the gap between Missourians in need and pork producers who faced a reduction in processing availability due to coronavirus-related slowdowns. All told, Missouri pork producers donated 611 hogs to the effort, providing 69,670 pounds of ground pork — 318,000 servings of much needed, high-quality protein — to Feeding Missouri, the association of Missouri’s six regional food banks.
“Protein is a significant need at food pantries, even during normal times,” said Scott Baker, state director of Feeding Missouri. “In 2020, that need was greater than we’ve ever seen. As demand has spiked at food banks and pantries across the state, so too has the help provided by Missouri’s farmers.”
Agricultural youth organizations were also key partners in this year’s Drive to Feed Kids campaign. Missouri 4-H and FFA initiated major community service activities. This spring, 4-H members from across the state provided 297,132 meals for Feeding Missouri during their four-month 4-H Feeding Missouri campaign.
Missouri FFA Association partnered with the Drive to Feed Kids for a fourth year. Even though FFA members were not able to gather for their statewide service day at the Missouri State Fair, a mini-grant program was created. Sixty-three FFA chapters received a $300 mini-grant. Food insecurity projects ranged from local meal and blessing box packing events, raising of broiler chickens for local senior citizens, providing milk for a weekly backpack program and Thanksgiving baskets for families in need. FFA members amplified $20,750 worth of grants for a total $41,500 impact.
In addition, Missourians met a 50,000 meal social media challenge by giving individual donations. These contributions, along with $1,145 raised by FCS Financial employees, allowed Missouri agriculture to reach its goal. Missouri Soybean Association matched every dollar contributed to the challenge for a grand total of $10,000. Thus, providing the purchasing power of 50,000 meals to support Feeding Missouri’s efforts in communities during this time of need.
According to Feeding America, more than 800,000 Missourians faced food insecurity in Missouri before COVID-19. With increased unemployment and the challenges of this year, Feeding America projects that number has increased by 39% to 1.1 million Missourians, including 335,260 children.
Sponsorship of Missouri Farmers Care’s Drive to Feed Kids was provided by: Brownfield Ag News, Missouri Farm Bureau, American Family Insurance, FCS Financial, MFA Incorporated, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, National FFA Association, Allen P. & Josephine B. Green Foundation, Forrest and Charlotte Lucas – founders of Protect the Harvest, Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Paseo Biofuels, LLC, Biofuels, LLC, Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri Pet Breeders Association, Missouri Pork Association, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri State Fair, Missouri FFA Association, Missouri 4-H, benevolent individuals and the contributions of many Missouri farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.
Drive to Feed Kids first launched in 2017 with a goal of building collaborative partnerships among non-profit organizations, farmers and agricultural businesses committed to addressing food insecurity in Missouri. To learn more about Missouri Farmers Care and the Drive to Feed Kids, visit MOFarmersCare.com/drive.