Farm Progress

Lorraine Lewandrowski wanted to cook up something to help her struggling neighbors.

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist

November 29, 2018

3 Min Read
SLOW-COOKED SUPPORT: Many dairy farmers are struggling to keep a happy face on during the holiday season. Lorraine Lewandrowski hopes to change that through giving warm meals to farmers in crockpots.donnafotopro/Getty Images

Many people call this "the season of giving," and for good reason. Some people don't have the luxury of being able to celebrate the holidays with family or friends, and no one likes to see people in distress during what's supposed to be a time of joy.

Same goes for struggling dairy farmers in New York state. Lorraine Lewandrowski is trying to make the holidays a little brighter for struggling dairy farmers with a simple tool: a crockpot.

"I saw my neighbors worried about paying the land taxes, facing setbacks or some life event," says Lewandrowski, an attorney in Herkimer.

So, she and her sister decided to do something about it.

"We decided to pick up supplies and a crockpot or two to provide a hot meal when we could do it to people who might like something," she says. "Friends who didn't know about the farmer situation were shocked and quickly donated a fleet of almost 20 crockpots. So, we can do a couple of meals and not worry about picking the pot up again until the weekend."

In an email, she described a typical morning in her neighborhood with crockpots in tow:

"We just drive up to the milk house in the morning before heading to the office and yell, 'Hey, do you want a pot of hot chili? Or soup?' Farmers grin and scurry out to get their pot," she wrote. "One woman burst into tears saying her credit cards are maxed out and they were eating cereal till the milk check came in."

Spreading the crockpots
Social media has allowed Lewandrowski to spread her idea to the masses, using the hashtag #CrockPotBrigade on Twitter and through postings on the Dairy Moms page on Facebook.

She says that within a few hours, 265 women responded to her Dairy Moms post.

"Some sent quick and frugal recipes, crockpot hints," she says. "I think there are other farm women out there who will do the same. We just to support each other through these times."

CROCKPOT BRIGADE: Lorraine Lewandrowski says that more than 20 crockpots have been donated to help feed hungry farmers in her upstate New York town.

She's even gotten feedback from other people far away from New York.

"I don't travel to other parts of the country, but women from all over were saying, 'We need this in Iowa, we need this in Wisconsin.' So, something is going on out there," she says.

Lewandrowski emailed some of the recipe ideas she's gotten from people on Facebook, which include chicken breast with diced tomatoes and onions; slow-cooked salsa chicken; and even no-bake cookies.

Not just for farmers
Crockpot meals have been delivered to around eight farmers in Lewandrowski's neighborhood, but other people have benefited, too.

"We've dropped crockpots for people who have no teeth and appreciate softer foods, and older retired farmers who get Meals on Wheels during the week but nothing on weekends. So, it's just kind of an ad-hoc thing run by my sister and I," Lewandrowski says.

It will likely be sometime before dairy farmers start seeing higher milk prices and their fortunes start to turn around.

"I know a lot of farmers who just don't know what to do. Then on top of that, a lot of us don't have good forage for the winter, and then the tariffs are something that are hard to deal with," she says.

WARM MEAL: Ray Artz of Newport warms his hands on a pot of chicken soup given to him by Lorraine Lewandrowski.

In the meantime, Lewandrowski hopes her crockpot brigade will help brighten the holidays for farmers in need.

"I didn't want to say about this story so much to have people think we are some kind of saints. What I hope will come of it is that other people will get a couple of extra crockpots and share with neighbors in need or who need an uplift," she says.

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like