Let’s Give Where We Live

By Christy Davis, Arizona Farm Bureau Field Manager: Recently, I attended an event with the United Food Bank in Mesa. Sitting in a room surrounded by 400 people, I began reading a fact card that was placed at each place setting. As I read the facts about food insecurity here is the state of Arizona I was astonished by the numbers.

Kristen Nelson and Tianna Parker of La Paz County Farm Bureau continue to team up on behalf of their community to help support their local Food Bank. They're focused on the mantra that we should give where we live. 

Arizona is ranked third in the U.S. for food-insecure children, that’s 434,840 children that are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. As I sat and listened to all the recognition that was being given to numerous organizations I began to ask myself how can I get the word out about this problem. Later, I restructured my thinking to how can I help solve this problem.

As Arizona Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Coordinator, I encourage my group to build programs within their counties to give back to the food banks in their community. We have been extremely successful in some counties but there are a few counties that still need a nudge. Some members are aware that the YF&R has a program called Harvest For ALL, a program exclusive to the Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers throughout the United States. Throughout the year, farmers and ranchers across the nation donate food, funds and people power to create a hunger-free America. And whether the contribution is a bushel, a dollar, or an hour, Farm Bureau and Feeding America will be working together to finish an important job: making sure every American can enjoy the bounty produced on our farms and ranches. We in agriculture have a moral obligation to give back! We grow the food that feeds the world why not the added next-step and help to feed those in need in our local communities.

So how do we help connect the dots? First if you want to get involved in one of our many ways of giving back, check out our county Facebook pages or the YF&R page on Facebook. Throughout the year we host different events that benefit the food banks in our individual counties. If you already donate to the food bank through food or funds, donate this in the name of your county Farm Bureau then report that to your county YF&R chair. These numbers matter not just so we can see the impact that Farm Bureau members are making but so that we can report those numbers to the American Farm Bureau YF&R.

All of the participating YF&R states compete against one another through food funds and hours donated and the top states are recognized at the Leadership Conference in February. I know that many of you like to help different charities and organizations, well next time you are trying to decide where your money, your time or even that nonperishable food item that has been sitting in your pantry is going to go, remember that Maricopa County alone is ranked fourth in the U.S. for overall food-insecurity.

My final advice, “Give where you live” that’s my favorite saying! As my Dad always told me growing up, start helping locally, make a difference in your community. As I sat and looked around the room at the breakfast, I noticed that the plates that were given to all those that were recognized for their efforts on the front of that plate it said, “Hunger Hero.” My challenge to you is be someone’s Hunger hero.

Together we can make a difference in Arizona and the next time they report hunger statistics on a facts card at a recognition banquet, perhaps those statistics will have greatly improved for the better.

For more information click on the link to the Feeding America page, http://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2014/overall. And of course check out the AZFB.org page for more information about the Arizona YF&R Harvest For All Program.

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