One in eight Iowans experiences hunger; either there isn’t enough to go around after they get done paying heating bills, or they have to choose between their child’s school expenses or medications. There are many paths in life that lead a hard-working person to need a little help from a food bank. It’s especially tough for those who dedicate their lives to growing food; that ‘one in eight’ statistic weighs heavily on the minds of Iowa farmers, who are heralded around the world as leading food producers.
It’s probably why farmers have long supported their local food banks. It’s lead to a new milestone for the America Needs Farmers (ANF) initiative by Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and the University of Iowa Athletic’s Department; more than $100,000 has been raised for the Iowa Food Bank Association through the sale of ANF merchandise. Polk County farmers who came to a Des Moines food bank to drop off a new donation, were moved to meet a client who once depended on the generosity of others during a hard time;
Commitment to helping the community is central to the core for many Iowa farmers. “It’s getting a little colder, people are having a little trouble with utility bills and things like that. So, it’s good to make sure that the food bank has plenty to give back. I’m a farmer, I grow crops and take pride in what we grow and it’s good to see it put to good use,” says Rob Stewart, Polk county farmer.
It’s also why IFBF has, for generations, encouraged youth leadership as the title sponsor of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Association. It’s why IFBF provides nearly $500,000 in annual scholarships for students every year. It’s why IFBF has also now provided $100,000 to the FFA foundation and long been a sponsor of 4-H programs across the state.
Being an Iowa farmer is about more than yields and ‘rate of gain’ for a market hog or how many acres are planted to corn or soybeans; it’s about what’s going on beyond the farm gate. It’s about people. It’s about community. It’s about giving back. ‘People, Progress, Pride’ means we’re all in this together, during good times and bad. That’s what being an Iowan is all about.
By Laurie Johns. Laurie is public relations manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.