By STEPHANIE SPANGLE
Communication Director, Ag Plus, LP
SOUTH WHITLEY — The USDA Economic Research Service and Hunger in America Study have found that, “11.7 percent of an estimated 2.2 million households in rural America are considered food insecure. This means these households, at some time during the year, had difficulty providing enough food for all their members.”
Hunger is an all too common problem many Americans are facing on a daily basis. With this in mind, Land O’Lakes Foundation Board of Directors took initiative by partnering up with farmer-owners and cooperative partners to help fight the battle with hunger. Chris Policinski, Land O’Lakes Chief Executive Officer and President, stated in an introductory letter to cooperative managers, “Land O’Lakes is committed to feeding the world and is proud to announce a specific focus on helping end hunger in rural America.” With the goal being to defeat rural hunger, Land O’Lakes, Inc. launched a grant program that will go towards hunger reduction programs and projects located in rural communities.
The Land O’Lakes Foundation matches dollar-for-dollar the donations member cooperatives make. Policinski also states in his letter, “With food shelf visits increasing by 30 percent in 2008, and with no end in sight, the Land O’Lakes Foundation has initiated a bold strategy called Feeding Our communities, a strategic, focused and long-term approach supported by the Land O’Lakes Foundation and your local member cooperative.” You can get additional information about the Feeding Our Communities program on Land O’Lakes website.
In our community, Ag Plus has contributed $2,500 to five different local food banks, which were matched by the Land O’Lakes Foundation. Ag Plus was very pleased to be able to partner with Land O’Lakes for the second year in a row to together donate $1,000 each to the South Whitley Area Emergency Food Bank, the Grace Lutheran Food Pantry, the Churubusco United Methodist Food Pantry, the New Haven Food Bank and the Woodburn Community Food Bank. The donations made by both supporting companies will be beneficial to the local communities as the number of families depending on food banks for subsistence continue to rise.
A Hunger in America study in 2006 found that, “Nearly 30 percent of rural households that turned to local food pantries reported that their children ‘often or sometimes’ did not eat enough because they lacked sufficient money to buy food.” The Land O’Lakes Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life in communities where Land O’Lakes, Inc. has farmer and co-op members, employees, plants and facilities. Land O’Lakes Foundation proactively helps rural communities prosper and prepare for tomorrow by donating resources that develop and strengthen organizations dedicated to human service, education and youth, civic and art endeavors.