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The History of Food Check-Out Week

Establishing a day for food similar to “Tax Freedom Day,” which would also honor the contributions of farmers and ranchers, was discussed at a strategic planning session of the South Carolina Farm Bureau. Betty DeWitt, chair of the SCFB Women’s Committee and dairy farmer Hugh Weathers (now South Carolina’s agriculture commissioner) were the initial champions of the idea. DeWitt brought the idea to the AFB Women’s Committee for consideration.

Linda Reinhardt, AFB Women’s Committee chair, made initial contacts and worked tirelessly to establish the Farm Bureau – Ronald McDonald House connection that continues to this day. The Kansas Farm Bureau Women’s Committee donated $1,500 to five Ronald McDonald Houses in the state. In addition, several county Farm Bureau Women’s Committees in Indiana held Food Check-Out Day events.

Food Check-Out Day, 1998. To the left of Ronald McDonald is Linda Reinhardt of Kansas, AFB Women’s Committee chair.

First national Food Check-Out Day event held in Chicago. Case Corporation (now Case IH) provided a tractor to pull groceries donated by the AFB Women’s Committee down the streets of Chicago to the doorstep of the Ronald McDonald House.

Farm Bureaus from around the country celebrated the event in its first year of organized effort.

In a report on the new initiative, AFB Women’s Committee Chair Linda Reinhardt noted, “This program has grown in just one year’s time to become a great addition to promoting the voice of agriculture.”

National event in Phoenix.

National event in Nashville.

National event in Philadelphia. Despite a heavy snowstorm in the region, a successful event was held at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. The Philly house was the first one in the nation, opened in 1974.

National event in Las Vegas.

National event in New Orleans.

National event in Jacksonville, Florida.

National event in Los Angeles.

Food Check-Out Day became Food Check-Out Week, to provide more flexibility for Farm Bureaus to schedule activities and events.

National events in Washington, D.C., at the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Washington, and the U.S. Agriculture Department, where then-Secretary Mike Johanns signed a proclamation recognizing Food Check-Out Week.

Case IH, which had been a sponsor of Food Check-Out events since 1998, donated a pedal tractor and farm toys for the children at the house.

National events in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Food and monetary donations were made to the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore. Committee members also held a reception on Capitol Hill for their members of Congress.

Case IH donated a pedal tractor and farm toys for the children at the house.

For the first time, books about agriculture were donated to the house by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.

Through 2007, state and county Farm Bureaus had donated more than $2.3 million in monetary and food donations to Ronald McDonald Houses and other charities.

National event at Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, S.C.

Betty DeWitt, former chair of the SCFB Women’s Committee and member of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, and Hugh Weathers, South Carolina’s commissioner of agriculture, were honored for originating the idea of Food Check-Out Day in the 1990s. DeWitt credited the success of the long-running program to the collective efforts of many people, but particularly Linda Reinhardt of Kansas (former chair of the AFB Women’s Committee), for establishing the Farm Bureau – Ronald McDonald House connection.

Case IH donated a pedal tractor and farm toys for the children staying at the house.