Earlier this week, we promised to bring you a story about the pandemic that illustrated the good in people. What is more inspiring than a story about young FFA members partnering with farmers, other community members and organizations that provide food for those who need it?
“We started with a simple premise,” says John Jackson, 16, Jamestown, Ind., a farm boy and officer of the Western Boone FFA Chapter. “There are Indiana farms with a surplus of meat and milk. There are countless Boone County residents struggling to put food on the table.
“Our chapter decided to cut out the middleman. We’re raising funds to purchase milk and meat directly from Indiana farmers so we can get those products to local Boone County food banks.”
Within a week after launching the Western Boone FFA Meat & Milk project, Jackson reported that the chapter had raised $17,000 to help purchase food. Travis Terhaar, vocational-agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Western Boone, provides support, but FFA members are primarily responsible for contacting would-be donors of both financial gifts and possible food products.
Food donations started with the delivery of pork to the Lebanon Boys & Girls Club and The Caring Center in Lebanon during the last week in April. Jackson received special permission from the school to accompany Terhaar on these deliveries, agreeing to adhere to social distancing and other COVID-19 safety practices.
Keep project going
Some of the pork delivered so far was from hogs donated by an anonymous farm and processed courtesy of Ramsey Girlz Deer Processing facility. The chapter also purchased pulled pork from Saint Adrian Meats and Sausage, a local butcher shop owned by three Boone County producers, emphasizing farm-to-table delivery. Learn more about their operation at saintadrianmeats.com.
The chapter is working through Prairie Farms to obtain and deliver milk. The members continue to add to their list of farms and processors that might be willing to partner with them in the project. So far, they’re distributing sausage, milk and pulled pork. Besides delivering to the Lebanon Boys & Girls Club and The Caring Center, the chapter is also working with the Western Boone Food Pantry.
What makes this project so unique is that the high school FFA members are providing the leadership to pull it together. The community has rewarded their initiative so far with grace and plenty of donations, both monetary and in-kind product, plus with connections to help get the food processed. The final step is the food pantries, stepping up to work with these future leaders to get the food where it can do the most good.
If you want to support the project, email Terhaar at email@example.com.
Jackson expects the Meat & Milk project to continue for several months. He may be only 16, but he’s intuitive enough to realize that it will take time to remedy the chaos created by the pandemic. People will likely need basics, including locally produced food, for some time.
This is just another illustration that by and large, Hoosiers — especially those in agriculture — are willing to help others when they see a need. Sometimes, it just takes a spark. In this case, a group of very dedicated young people lit the match!
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