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November 2003

This Season is a Time for Thanks and Giving


Bob Stallman
President
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

For many of us, this time of year evokes images of crisp autumn leaves, family gatherings and foods that delight the senses. There is a feeling of warmth and security in the season’s air. Norman Rockwell’s poignant painting, Freedom from Want, depicting an American family enjoying Thanksgiving dinner always comes to my mind.

Unfortunately, there are numerous Americans who do not share in that freedom. In our great nation of plenty, for whatever reason, some are denied the ability to share in our bounty – to celebrate freedom from hunger.

It is a simple fact – millions of Americans will go hungry this Thanksgiving, nearly half of those will be children. Many kids can only dream of that extra piece of turkey and slice of pumpkin pie that you and I too easily take for granted.

Through the eyes of an American farmer, this is simply and morally unacceptable. Thanksgiving, to us, signifies the completion of another fall harvest season – the completion of our cyclical job of producing food for Americans. But, as long as one hungry American remains, have we really completed our job?

Giving Back to Our Community

Farmers and ranchers, Farm Bureau members, we still have work to do. That’s why Farm Bureau has made it a goal to stop hunger, not only at Thanksgiving, but every day of the year.

Spearheaded by AFBF’s Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, Farm Bureau has been working with America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, to combat hunger. Our program, Harvest for All, joins the two organizations in a collaborative effort to donate food, coordinate food drives, load food in warehouses and even fill bowls of soup for hungry children.

Many state and county Farm Bureaus are taking the bull by the horns to build a successful anti-hunger program for farmers and ranchers to give back to their communities. Whether it’s fixing lunch for kids at a Louisiana Baptist church or working in tandem with California Dodge dealerships to raise food, money and awareness, Farm Bureau – not just our young farmers, but also FB Women, promotion and education committees, county and state boards of directors and our general membership – is stepping up to the plate.

In November, during their annual meeting, the Young Farmer and Rancher Committee will be spending a day sorting food and feeding the hungry in Rapid City, South Dakota. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Syngenta, grants will be awarded to local hunger groups in the names of the three state Farm Bureaus who raise the most money, donate the most food and volunteer the most hours.

At the national level, AFBF also is putting effort behind our words. In October, AFBF staff spent a morning volunteering at a Washington, D.C. food bank. In those three short hours we unloaded and sorted 15,000 pounds of food and packaged more than 1,000 lunches for hungry children in the community. It doesn’t take much time or effort to make a difference.

Putting a Face on Hunger

America’s Second Harvest fed 23 million Americans last year-9 million of which were children. To many folks, these unfortunate people are only faceless statistics. Just because you have never stared hunger in the face doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. It’s probably right there in your community and you might not even know it. I encourage you to get to know it. I encourage you to help end it.

There are hundreds of different ways you can help. Donate your time. Donate your food. Donate your financial resources. As America’s first harvesters, there is no reason farmers and ranchers should take hunger sitting down, not when we produce the world’s most abundant food supply. As I have said in the past, I truly believe a farmer’s job is not done until every American is fed.

So, as you sit down this Thanksgiving to your turkey and pumpkin pie, remember those Americans who are doing without. And don’t forget about them after that. Hunger doesn’t end with the holidays. Working together – one bushel, one dollar, one hour at a time – we will help end hunger in America.