Before you leave home for Husker Harvest Days, don't forget to pack non-perishable food items to donate at the show entrances.
A few years back, when I was working with high school-aged youth at our church, we collected canned and non-perishable food items for our county food pantry around Thanksgiving time. The teens involved in the group were not well-to-do, but they had never known what it was like to actually be "hungry." And, when we delivered the food we had collected to the church where the pantry was stored and administered, the pastor in charge of the pantry gave our students a tour. He explained that, in the middle of our nation's breadbasket, there are many hungry people.
It wasn't that these folks were just lazy and out of work. They were trying to make ends meet, but were struggling with health issues, family issues and just plain bad luck. He talked about a lady whose husband had just passed away from cancer. She lost everything to pay medical bills and was left with nothing to pay for food or basic living expenses. He told the students about another lady with four young children whose husband had suddenly left her and her family. He had disappeared and she had no means of supporting herself.
The local pantry was not considered a long-term solution for these needy families. But it helped them get by for a few weeks without having to worry about feeding themselves and their families. That is the gift we are giving when we contribute to food pantries. We, as farmers, are used to the idea of feeding people. So, we should be on the front lines when it comes to feeding folks who truly need a little help.
Thankfully, Farm Progess, Monsanto Co., and the Heartland United Way have been teaming up these past three years during Husker Harvest Days to help out four food pantries in the Grand Island area by collecting food from Husker Harvest Days visitors. Each of the four food pantries that are benefitting from these food collections serve between 300 and 500 people per month. That's up to 2000 individuals. For every pound of food collected, Monsanto will donate $1 to the food pantries up to a total of $10,000.
Visitors to Husker Harvest Days this week can drop off their non-perishable food items at each of the four show entrances. The first 250 farmers who donate food items will receive a $5 food voucher for use at one of the food vendors at the show. FFA students who donate food will receive free show admission.
Food donations for this drive can be accepted through Sept. 15 at the Heartland United Way at W. 2nd St., Suite 1 in Grand Island. Food can also be dropped off for the drive at local grocery stores including Skagway, HyVee and Super Saver in Grand Island, and donations made at these locations will also count toward the Monsanto $1-per-pound match.
Times are tough for folks across the country, including those in rural America. I would encourage you to not only bring your friends to Husker Harvest Days this week, but also bring a little extra food to help feed those who truly need it. It is what farmers do. And, in the future, I would also encourage you to seek out information about the food pantries in your hometown and county, and contribute what you can to those as well.
Safe travels to Grand Island this week and we look forward to seeing you all at Husker Harvest Days.