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March 7, 2008
Bringing in the Harvest
By Tracy Taylor Grondine
Throughout the year, America's farmers work hard to produce the staples of life – food, fiber, renewable forest products and crops for homegrown biofuels. While National Agriculture Day, observed on March 20, celebrates farmers' and ranchers' contributions to American society, many farmers will tell you the true celebration can't really start till their job is done.
The job? Making sure as many Americans as possible have the opportunity to enjoy the bounty produced on our nation's farms and ranches. That's why Farm Bureau and America's Second Harvest – our nation's premier network of food banks – team up on a program called Harvest for All.
Through Harvest for All, spearheaded by Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher participants, farmers across the United States work together to donate food, funds and people power to move us closer to reaching the goal of a hunger-free America.
Whether the contribution is the value of a bushel of grain, surplus fruit from an orchard or an hour of volunteer work, Farm Bureau and Americas Second Harvest continue to work together to finish the important job of feeding Americans who experience the pangs of hunger.
You could say America's farmers hold true to a deeply rooted ethical belief that in our nation of plenty, no citizen should have to worry about where his or her next meal might come from. When you couple that belief with the energy of the young farmers who make the program run, and the commitment from a dedicated partner like America's Second Harvest, it's not difficult to see why Harvest for All is such a valued program.
Since Harvest for All started five years ago, America's farmers have gathered more than 9 million pounds of food, logged nearly 25,000 service hours and raised more than $600,000 in cash. It's hard to put a value on the volunteer hours to help out a food charity, but combined, the food and money donated amounts to more than 16 million meals.
This year was one of the most successful in the program's short history. More than 4.5 million pounds of food were donated, 4,760 volunteer hours were clocked and $130,376 was raised. That amounts to 5,671,608 meals this year alone.
Harvest for All is making a big difference in the lives of many Americans. While that is a reason to celebrate, any farmer will tell you that the job of bringing in the harvest is far from being done. In fact, the combine is just warming up.
Tracy Taylor Grondine is director of media relations for the American Farm Bureau.