Thanks to farm show feeds, Mid-South Food Bank benefits from nearly 52,000 meals packaged at this year’s Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn.
Students and advisors from eight high schools across the Mid-South participated in the National FFA Program. Each person performed a specific task on an assembly line.
“The students play the most important role in the event,” says Amanda Bell, southeast regional sales manager, Lummus Ag Technology, and coordinator for Farm Show Feeds since its inception. “Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it gets pretty competitive as the morning progresses. It’s uplifting to hear the students yell in unison each time the bell rings signifying completion of another box.”
Jessica Pruitt, national account manager, The Outreach Program, Des Moines, Iowa, guided the students through the morning’s packaging session. The students packed cinnamon and oatmeal donated by Grain Millers Inc., and Cargill Inc. “The Outreach Program is an organization dedicated to ending food insecurity by providing meal packaging opportunities to communities across America,” Pruitt says. “They also address water, medical, and educational needs.”
“Outreach coordinates the packaging and delivery of meals across the United States and around the world,” Pruitt says.
Floyd Hammer, Iowa construction entrepreneur, and his wife, Kathy started the international non-profit organization.
Clients working with The Outreach Program decide which charity they would like to see benefit from the volunteer effort. “We decided again this year to package meals for the Memphis Food Bank,” says Tim Price, executive director, Southern Cotton Ginners Association. “We like seeing an impact made on the communities in need across the Mid-South.”
There are defined parts of the country where people live but do not have access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods. These areas exist due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or healthy food providers.
According to Cathy Pope, president & CEO of the Memphis Food Bank, the food insecurity rate for Mid-South residents remains at nearly 20%. “One-third of that 20% are children,” Pope says. “The food insecurity rate among seniors has also increased. Quitman County, Mississippi, is one of those food deserts and we are working with officials to provide food to those in need in that defined food desert.”
After coordinating the Farm Show Feeds event for seven years, Bell has a clearer understanding of how food desert issues are being addressed.
Lummus Ag Technology also allowed Tyler Davidson, Needville, Texas, and Hudson Cook, Luflin, Texas, to attend the Farm Show Feeds event to assist Bell in her coordinating efforts. “Through projects like this across the country, our company contributes to a much bigger picture, one that reminds us we can all do more when we work together,” Bell says.
Covington High School student Demetrius Smith said. “The coordinators made the event fun. It’s hard for me to imagine going to bed hungry. I was excited to be part of this event. It was very gratifying, and I’ll be back to volunteer again next year.”
If you would like to volunteer your time for the Memphis Food Bank, logon to: http://www.midsouthfoodbank.org/volunteer.
The Mid-South Food Bank is located at 239 South Dudley, Memphis, Tenn., 38014. Their telephone number is 901-527-0841.