Since 2016, Farm Credit Mid-America has supplemented more than 4.4 million meals to those in need through its Farms to Food Banks program. The program is one example of the financial services cooperative’s dedication to securing the future of rural communities and agriculture.
Farms to Food Banks connects farmers and their products to local food banks. Over the next several weeks, team members from Farm Credit Mid-America and its rural lending brand, Rural 1st®, will visit local customers’ farms where they will gather fresh produce to donate to local food banks. The goal is to ensure local community members in the states Farm Credit Mid-America serves have access to fresh produce and protein to supplement shelf-stable meals.
So far in 2023, Farm Credit Mid-America and Rural 1st team members have volunteered more than 740 hours at 29 food banks in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Those food banks are instrumental in:
- Distributing 156 million pounds of food in Indiana
- Helping to feed 1 in 7 Kentuckians
- Partnering with nearly 100 farmers, growers and producers in Ohio through the Agricultural Clearance Program
- Feeding Tennesseans at risk for hunger in 95 counties throughout Tennessee
- Providing healthy fruits and vegetables to 180 partner agencies in 12 counties in Northeast Arkansas
“This is the seventh year our team members have volunteered their time and worked alongside our customers to support Farms to Food Banks,” said Randy Barbee, community investment manager for Farm Credit Mid-America. “According to Feeding America, in 2021 alone, 13.5 million tons of farm produce was wasted, yet today, 34 million face hunger in the United States. This program is just one way we can partner with our customers to build relationships with our neighboring communities, address the issue of healthy food insecurity, and showcase the value of the agriculture industry at a local level.”
In addition to thousands of volunteer hours, Farm Credit Mid-America has donated more than $1 million to local food banks since the inception of the program. Funds contributed have sourced farmer-grown products as well as purchased resources that food banks need to maintain the freshness of produce and protein, including cold storage.
September is National Hunger Action Month, and the nationwide network of food banks works to end hunger by providing food and support to millions of people. In 2022, Feeding America, estimated 49 million people turned to food banks and community programs for help putting food on the table. Additionally, Farm Credit Mid-America’s partnerships help to supplement food deserts, or areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food, that are prevalent throughout the country, specifically in rural areas where access to a supermarket is often 10 miles or more away.