COLUMBIA, Mo. – 4-H clubs across Missouri have raised more than three quarters of a million meals to feed hungry families over the last three years.
The third annual 4-H Feeding Missouri food drive, in partnership with Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids, ran Jan. 1 through April 30. Even though COVID-19 limited in-person drives, fundraising, volunteer service and education and outreach activities, 4-H clubs successfully secured 356,665 meals this year for hungry Missourians, bringing the three-year cumulative total to 756,049.
“Even in the midst of all the challenges around COVID-19, you stepped up and exceeded the number of meals raised last year,” said Marshall Stewart, University of Missouri vice chancellor for extension and engagement. “Missouri 4-H and their families pulled together to inspire people in your community to continue to donate.”
Missouri 4-H members contributed food, cash donations and volunteer hours to help feed neighbors and raise awareness about food insecurity in Missouri.
This year, 4-H clubs could apply for matching mini-grants through a donation from Missouri Farmers Care Foundation. Almost $5,000 was awarded to 17 Missouri 4-H clubs to help further their local efforts during the drive. In Ste. Genevieve County, 4-H’ers divided grant dollars equally among three local food pantries.
4-H Feeding Missouri campaign proceeds go directly to Feeding Missouri, a coalition of the state’s six major food banks that provides hunger relief through a network of more than 1,500 community-based food programs in every county and the city of St. Louis.
“One in five Missourians face hunger, and the needs of those who are food insecure are on the rise due to the impact of COVID-19,” said Scott Baker, Feeding Missouri state director.
At a virtual event on May 26 celebrating the drive’s success, Cass County 4-H members were recognized for raising 53,104 meals, the most of any Missouri county. In recognition of their effort, Cass County 4-H’ers will have an opportunity to participate in a leadership program later this year.
“The most important part of this drive was the work Missouri 4-H and their families did to raise awareness across the state about this important issue,” said Lupita Fabregas, Missouri 4-H director. “We urge 4-H’ers to keep working with their local food pantries and to support the Drive to Feed Kids campaign later this year, as well as special efforts planned during this summer’s county and state fair season.”
To continue to help fight hunger in Missouri, Missouri Farmers Care Foundation’s Drive to Feed Kids invites pig farmers and swine exhibitors to donate pigs this summer through Hogs for Hunger. Pigs can be processed and donated locally, or up to 50 pigs will be accepted for donation at the Missouri State Fair. Missouri Farmers Care asks state fair exhibitors to indicate their willingness to donate their pigs by July 30 at MOFarmersCare.com/hogs-for-hunger(opens in new window).
“Food banks consistently report that protein is the most requested and hardest to procure item,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care. “It is fulfilling to see the heart of Missouri agriculture expressed by Missouri youth donating much-needed protein to hungry Missourians. These generous donations through Hogs for Hunger will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, over 1.1 million Missourians facing food insecurity.”
The 2021 Drive to Feed Kids will culminate at the Missouri State Fair with a variety of activities, including a meal box packing event in the 4-H building on Aug. 16. Fairgoers that day are welcome to stop by to view the exhibits and pack a box. Learn more about this event and the other Drive to Feed Kids activities at MOFarmersCare.com/drive(opens in new window).
About Feeding Missouri
Feeding Missouri is a coalition of Missouri’s six major food banks that works to provide hunger relief to every county in the state and the city of St. Louis through a coordinated network of more than 1,500 community-based feeding programs.
About Missouri Farmers Care Foundation and Missouri Farmers Care
Missouri Farmers Care Foundation enables Missourians to understand the influence and importance of agriculture in their daily lives by serving as the centralized hub of the unified educational programs, awards and hunger relief efforts of Missouri’s agricultural community.
Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri’s agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our communities depend. The coalition of more than 40 leading Missouri agricultural groups promotes the growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education and advocacy. For more information, visit MOFarmersCare.com(opens in new window)
About Missouri 4-H
More than 55,000 members strong, Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information, visit 4h.missouri.edu(opens in new window).
Writer: Anne Reeder