In the world of agriculture, it may seem that America is a land of plenty: fields of corn, acres of vegetables, row upon row of orchard trees. But, for one in six people in the United States, hunger is a reality. Many believe that hunger is confined to big cities or pocket communities, but oftentimes, those who struggle with hunger are our neighbors, hardworking people who have to go without food for multiple meals, or even several days.
In an effort to combat this growing issue, the National FFA Organization has developed the Hunger Heroes Challenge. At the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo, attendees were able to visit the “Running on Empty: A Journey Through Hunger” booth. At the booth, visitors listened and learned about people who are food-insecure in the United States. Each visitor assumed the identity of one of these people in order to better understand their situation. Participants learned the scope of hunger, the choices made to secure food, types of assistance programs, and ultimately, how a person got out of hunger and food insecurity.
The Hunger Heroes Challenge encourages FFA members and chapters to find ways to defeat the hunger issues that exist in their community.
“Coming off the 2012 National FFA Convention where almost 10,000 FFA members packed more than 1 million meals for the hungry, FFA members and advisors were looking for ways to learn more about the issues of hunger and how to take positive action in their own communities,” says Kayla Lumpford-Mitchell, the program coordinator for Program Enhancement with the National FFA Organization. “National FFA wanted to offer a new challenge to chapters across the country: Help us donate 1 million meals to local communities by the 2014 National FFA Convention & Expo. FFA members thrive off of competition, and this challenge offers them an opportunity to take action and be a part of the solution to hunger and help National FFA reach our goal.”
Meals are calculated using a Meal Math sheet that can be found on the FFA Hunger Heroes page located on the FFA Hunger site at FFA.org/heroes.
As of December 2013, almost 300,000 meals have been collected and donated to the hungry by FFA chapters. Many chapters have contributed by hosting a canned food drive, managing a community garden, and developing presentations to inform the community on how to grow their own food. The Scotts County FFA chapter from the Kentucky FFA Association hosted a “Soup”er Bowl event and encouraged their entire school to bring canned food and nonperishables. The chapter then took the donations and created a “CAN”struction before donating nearly 16,000 meals to the local food shelter.
The FFA Hunger Heroes Challenge and the Feeding Our World – Starting at Home initiative are funded by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Cargill, Farmers Feeding the World, Land O’Lakes, Monsanto, RAM, Tractor Supply Company, Elanco and Nationwide Insurance Foundation as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
– Beverly Flatt
Learn more about hunger insecurity from the video below: