FFA Members Focus on World Hunger at 2012 National FFA Convention

National FFA Convention focuses on world hunger

FFA members who attended the 2012 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis last October didn’t just talk about world hunger – they did something about it.

During convention, more than 10,000 FFA members, teachers, alumni and volunteers converged on Lucas Oil Stadium for the FFA Rally to Fight Hunger, where they worked in hour-long shifts for three days to package one million meals.

“We were thrilled to offer this new service opportunity to close to 10,000 FFA members during their trip to Indianapolis,” says Kelsey Kasting, program manager for the National FFA Organization. “In just 20 hours – over two and a half days – there were 1,005,048 meals packed. Half of the meals went to Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis, and the other half of the meals were shipped overseas to Haiti.”

Gleaners Food Bank, one of Indiana’s largest and busiest community food banks, distributed the meals they received to hungry families in a 21-county area in central and southeast Indiana.

The Rally to Fight Hunger kicked off the National FFA Organization’s global “Feeding the World–Starting at Home” initiative, a movement to help students understand the issues and effects of hunger. The FFA Rally to Fight Hunger is a project of the National FFA Organization and is sponsored through the National FFA Foundation with support from many generous sponsors, including The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Dow AgroSciences, Elanco, Farmers Feeding the World, Land O’Lakes Inc., Monsanto, Tyson Foods Inc., American Family Insurance, Archer Daniels Midland Co., BKD CPAs and Advisors, Cargill, CSX Transportation, Hormel Foods Corp. and Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

Longtime FFA corporate sponsors Hormel Foods and Tyson Foods showed their support by donating 38,000 pounds of chili with beans and 30,800 pounds of fresh chicken to Gleaners Food Bank. When the donated food arrived at Gleaners, 80 FFA members were onsite volunteering as part of FFA’s National Days of Service.

“One in six Americans are at risk of hunger – that’s too many,” says Sara Lilygren, senior vice president of external relations at Tyson Foods. “People at Tyson have been working with others on this problem for over a decade, but we know we’ll not be able to solve it without a new generation of leadership. That’s why we’re inspired to see these students get involved in the fight against hunger.”

In addition to packing meals at the rally, students learned about hunger issues and food insecurity not only overseas, but locally. They left with information about how to conduct hunger relief efforts in their home communities.

“Students learned that hunger could exist right in their own back yards,” Kasting says. “The rally will help jump-start similar hunger-related events at local levels. Many chapters have inquired about hosting similar events in their home communities. If all our local chapters start making an impact on hunger in their communities, we hope to help make an impression in the fight against hunger.”

– Jessica Mozo