Did you know roughly 343,000 Missourians are experiencing hunger? Did you know when it comes to hunger, rural regions have the highest concentrations of high need counties in Missouri? I didn’t either until this week.
This morning I traveled to Columbia to be a guest on AgriTalk radio for an important announcement regarding food insecurity in Missouri. Missouri Farmers Care is partnering with Ford and the Missouri State Fair to host the Missouri Farmers Care Food Drive Day on Tuesday, August 16 at the Missouri State Fair. Ford will be collecting canned goods throughout the summer at their dealerships. People can receive a coupon for $1 off admission up to a maximum of $4 off admission for adults, and $1 off admission for children under 12.
The event kicked off this morning at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia. AgriTalk Radio and Syngenta made a $1,500 donation to the food bank to help address the hunger issues in Missouri. Every dollar contributed to the Food Bank provides 17 pounds of food – or about 13 meals. Today’s Missouri farmers raise food for more Missouri families than ever before. One farmer feeds 155 people. We know each day we are working to not only feed our families but to also feed all Missouri families. We are proud of the role we play in providing food security for Missourians. It’s important to farmers to provide safe, healthy and abundant food for all families, not just our own families.
It’s easy to think that in the land of plenty, everyone has consistent access to high quality, nourishing food, but sadly that is not the case in Missouri. Missouri ranks 5th for food insecurity in the United States. Nearly 45,000 children in Central & Northeast Missouri qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. Unfortunately, there are only a few summer feeding programs that meet this growing need when school is out. The elderly continue to be the fastest-growing group in need of assistance due to fixed incomes and rising medical expenses. The working poor comprise more than 70 percent of those receiving assistance from food pantries. The vast majority of these don’t receive food stamps or government cash assistance, and earn less than $950 per month.
Missouri’s food security, economy and social well-being are directly connected to the positive impacts provided byMissouri agriculture. Missouri agriculture is part of the solution to solving our hunger issues. Understanding the truth about modern agriculture, food production and farm life is important for all Missourians. In the last 20 years, technology has reduced the amount of land needed to produce one bushel of corn by 37%. Nutrients found in manure are vital to corn and soybean plants, and have been used for decades as a natural fertilizer.
To learn more about how you can help provide relief to Missouri’s food insecure, check out this website http://www.sharefoodbringhope.org/. You can donate online or you can drop off canned goods at any food pantry or food bank across Missouri. And, even if you aren’t able to help with a food donation, volunteers are always needed.
Kevin and I have had the opportunity to volunteer at several food banks across the United States thanks to the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers program. We have seen first-hand the difference Food Banks make in the lives of children, adults and the elderly. This morning, Scott Baker, who works for the Missouri Food Bank Association said he wished there was a “weed killer” that would stamp out hunger. I couldn’t agree more, Scott.