By Kera Howell & Tricia McDonald
Gratiot County Farm Bureau’s Feed-a-Farmer program got started through some conversations with Young Farmer members in other counties. We were looking to engage more members — and recognize the hard work that goes into harvest time — by providing a meal to our farmers in the area.
Nicole Vanderploeg originally gave us the idea when talking about the program. When she was on the county Farm Bureau board, she thought it would have been a great thing for members not in the fields to take some time delivering meals to their friends or other Young Farmers in the area.
We took her idea and ran with it: Feed-a-Farmer was born!
We decided that throughout each autumn month we would pick a date to organize meals and have them delivered out to hungry farmers. We teamed up with local restaurants — Hearthstone in Ithaca, Anschutz in Breckenridge, and Blue Shamrock in St. Louis — to help give back to small businesses during the pandemic, ordering 30+ meals each time!
(These restaurants were also part of the give-back meal vouchers program through Farm Bureau Insurance in the early months of the pandemic.)
We coordinated the majority of the program this fall by contacting local members to ask with help for delivering and talking with members who are farmers themselves or who work on farms to see if they were interested in receiving a meal.
Our efforts were made possible with donations from our county’s Farm Bureau Insurance agent: Scott Allen (Ithaca), Stacey Ensz (Alma) and Monte Reichard (St. Louis).
Altogether we fed 109 farmers this fall through our program, engaging eight county Farm Bureau members along the way. We look forward to continuing Feed-a-Farmer in the spring of 2021, during planting season.
If we learned anything in 2020, it’s to continue to try our best to engage with our members and lean on one another in times of need!
Kera Howell & Tricia McDonald co-chair Gratiot County Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer committee.