Members of the West Plains FFA Chapter joined more than 700 FFA members and agricultural leaders at the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 15 to pack 160,000 meals to feed families facing food insecurity in Missouri.
The event was held during the Missouri State FFA Food Insecurity Day of Service, in conjunction with the Missouri Farmers Care Foundation Drive to Feed Kids.
"The Missouri FFA Day of Service is an incredible opportunity for members across the state to give back to our community. It is super exciting to see members exemplifying what ‘Living to Serve’ truly means when packing meals this year," said Sam Tummons, Missouri State FFA president.
The seventh annual Day of Service brought Missouri FFA members together to pack meals for food-insecure neighbors and experience the Missouri State Fair. The food packing and food drive are held in partnership with Missouri Farmers Care Foundation's Drive to Feed Kids, presented with ADM and Brownfield Ag News. According to officials, the meal packing was a component of a yearlong effort to stand in the gap for the one in seven Missouri children facing food insecurity.
“As we see the energy and compassion of Missouri FFA members in action during the FFA Day of Service, we are reminded that the future is bright,” said Ashley McCarty, Missouri Farmers Care Foundation executive director. “Hundreds of students from across the state spend one of their last days of summer in service to Missourians facing hunger. The impact of the Drive to Feed Kids is a reminder that, collectively, our individual efforts can make a big impact.”
In addition to meals packed by FFA members, almost 700 pounds of fresh produce were donated from exhibits at the Missouri FFA building. Through the Missouri Farmers Care Food Drive $2 Tuesday at the fair, FFA member volunteers collected food and monetary donations from fairgoers to provide more than 56,000 meals. Following the Governor’s Ham Breakfast, over 3,000 meals were packed by elected leaders, farmers and agribusinesses.
The Drive culminated Aug. 19 with an announcement of the 1.2 million meals provided to Feeding Missouri food banks this year through the Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids. The meals were distributed to Missouri’s six regional food banks through Feeding Missouri.
"The number of Missourians, and specifically children, living in food-insecure households is growing due to several factors. We are grateful to have the continued commitment of the farming community. This partnership helps ensure children in Missouri have access to the nutritious food necessary to succeed during the school year,” said Heather Hargrove, executive director of Feeding Missouri.
Sponsorship of Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Day and Missouri Farmers Care’s Drive to Feed Kids was provided by ADM, Brownfield Ag News, American Family Insurance, American Family Dreams Foundation, MFA Incorporated, NutraBlend, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, FCS Financial, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Farm Bureau, Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation, Martin Rice, Missouri FFA Foundation, Forrest and Charlotte Lucas – founders of Protect the Harvest, Missouri Pork Association, Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri State Fair, Missouri 4-H, University of Missouri Extension, Missouri State Fair Foundation, Feeding Missouri and the contributions of many Missouri farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses, said officials.