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Agriculture pulls together for Missouri’s hungry children

Missouri’s rate of childhood food insecurity is among the highest in the nation, and the state’s agricultural industry is working to change that through the Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids. Over the summer, this collaborative partnership raised resources to feed more than 1.8 million hungry children across the state.

“Kids coming to school hungry or not knowing if there will be food to eat at home over the weekend is a harsh reality,” said Dr. Alan Wessler, MFC chairman and MFA Incorporated vice president of feed operations and animal health. “Food insecurity in Missouri is a silent problem in our own communities and hometowns. All of the funds raised, 100 percent, will go to the backpack programs for Missouri kids.”

A check for $165,284 for childhood food insecurity programs was presented Aug. 10 at the Missouri State Fair to Feeding Missouri, the association of Missouri’s six regional food banks. The check presentation was made just before the fair’s Sawyer Brown concert, which also supported the cause. The group’s lead singer, Mark Miller, has been an avid supporter of hunger relief across the U.S., and he co-wrote and produced the movie, “Where the Fast Lane Ends,” which was shown earlier that day to Drive to Feed Kids collaborators at the fair. The film was created by Farming to Fight Hunger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the knowledge gap between agriculture and consumers and increasing awareness of food security issues.  

On Aug. 15, the first-ever Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Service Day was held on the fairgrounds in Sedalia. More than 350 FFA students and volunteers spent the day packing 52,032 meals to feed families of up to six people.

“Missouri FFA was proud to be a part of this effort to bring awareness to food insecurity in our state,” said Keith Dietzschold, Missouri FFA executive secretary. “This type of activity brings to life the FFA motto of ‘Living to Serve’ while working to complete our FFA vision of ‘Growing Leaders, Building Communities, and Strengthening Agriculture.’”

In addition, a total of 8,950 pounds of nonperishable food was given to local pantries through donations of fairgoers during the Missouri Farmers Care Food Drive Day and the Can Creation Contest, in which FFA teams used canned food items donated by Woods Supermarket. Missouri FFA also donated 900 pounds of fresh produce from student projects on display at the fair.

“Seeing Missouri’s agriculture groups walk the walk during the Drive to Feed Kids is heartening and inspiring,” said Scott Baker, state director for Feeding Missouri. “It has gone a long way to making this one of the most hopeful years in Feeding Missouri’s history. We are grateful to all who donated.”

MFA was a sponsor of the Drive to Feed Kids along with many other agricultural organizations, businesses and individuals.

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