Sep. 9—GREENSBURG — During the 2023 fair season the Decatur County 4-H program was approached with a very unique opportunity.
Farm Credit Mid-America was hosting their annual Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer initiative. Their goal was to recruit as many county 4-H programs to participate from across the state as they could. County programs that opted into the initiative agreed to facilitate a food drive during its local county fair.
FCMA defined that food could be collected through traditional means or by fun and innovative ways. One of the stipulations was youth had to be involved during the process.
The Decatur County 4-H program immediately opted into the initiative. In place of traditional food drive methods, the county took a more innovative approach. Local businesses were approached and asked to be sponsors of the event. If businesses felt so inclined, they could provide a small monetary donation to the cause.
In addition, youth also helped collect food during the fair outside the trailer.
Funds that were raised were also used to purchase additional food that would have direct impact on the local community, a second requirement of FCMA. All food and food products collected were to be donated directly back to local food pantries.
As an incentive, FCMA pledged the top three counties in the state that participated and collected the most food and food product (by weight) would receive a cash prize. The first-place county would win $5,000, second would win $3,000, and third would win $2,000. The prize money would support the advancement of the local 4-H program.
With four local food pantries in the Decatur County area, the goal was set: Don't focus on the incentive, focus on how much our local program can support our local community.
Pantries were contacted to identify direct needs for their demographic and the local 4-H members were set to show just how amazing of a county Decatur is.
When the dust had settled, funds raised and food collected, local 4-H youth could see the value of the food collected and the needs of local food pantries.
Decatur County's local sponsors and donors stepped up in ways that could not be imagine! The final weight of food and food product raised was 9,220 pounds; all to be immediately donated back to local pantries.
The total statewide amount raised for the 2023 Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer initiative was 99,020 pounds. A tenth of the amount raised was attributed directly to Decatur County alone, and the Decatur County 4-H program got second in the state out of 36 participating counties!
Decatur County Extension Director and Educator Christopher Fogle offered a huge shout out and thank you to Farm Credit Mid America for the opportunity and to all of the local donors who provided funding or food.
"Due to your selfless donations, we are able to fight food insecurity in the county one person at a time. Thank you all," Fogle said. — Information provided