The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau raised more than $810,000 and donated a record of more than 32 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau's "Harvest for All" program in partnership with Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations also reached a record level of the equivalent of more than 34 million meals.
Now in its 11th year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau's Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but Farm Bureau members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. In all, 18 state Farm Bureaus heeded the call to action.
The joint effort between Farm Bureau and Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger relief organization, is a national community action program through which farmers and ranchers can help ensure every American enjoys the bounty of food they produce.
In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied nearly 13,000 volunteer friend hours assisting local hunger groups in 2013.
"We are encouraged by what we can accomplish by working together and sharing our bounty, to help nourish those who need help the most," said Jake Carter, who chairs the AFBF YF&R committee. He and his wife, Jennifer, offer u-pick strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, a fall corn maze and educational school tours year-round on their farm near McDonough, GA.
"America's farmers and ranchers continue to step up to the table in a coordinated effort to serve their fellow Americans," Carter said. "No American should be allowed to go without food and because of Harvest for All, the equivalent of 34 million meals made it to the tables of those who needed it the most this past year."
Harvest for All is one of the most important community service efforts undertaken by Farm Bureau members. Despite some improvement in the U.S. economy overall, many Americans still need the help provided by Feeding America and its national network of local food assistance organizations, according to Carter.
"Feeding America greatly appreciates the American Farm Bureau and its Young Farmers & Ranchers for its consistent contributions through Harvest for All and for our 11-year partnership that has provided much-needed assistance for the one in six Americans who are struggling with hunger," said James Borys, regional produce officer at Feeding America.
The Florida Farm Bureau took top honors for donating the most food in 2013, 11,207,790 pounds. Illinois Farm Bureau raised the most money, $645,158. And, Michigan Farm Bureau tallied the most volunteer friend hours, 4,980. Thanks to the generosity of Chevrolet/GM, each of those state organizations received a $1,500 grant to donate to a local food bank of their choice.
Second-place winners were the California Farm Bureau for food donated at 11,088,062 pounds; Michigan Farm Bureau for donated funds at $38,558; and Illinois Farm Bureau for volunteer time at 2,986 hours. Each of the second-place winners received a $1,000 grant from Chevrolet/GM to donate to the local food bank of their choice.
In addition, five state YF&R committees received $500 grants from Chevrolet/GM for "most innovative" programs. Those winners were Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico and North Carolina.
The awards were presented Sunday during AFBF's YF&R Conference in Virginia Beach, Va. Since Harvest for All was launched 11 years ago, Farm Bureau families have gathered more than 105 million pounds of food, logged more than 84,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $3.5 million in donations. Combined, the food and money donations are the equivalent of more than 117 million meals.