By Jeremy C. Nagel
Lapeer County Farm Bureau carded a big win recently, coordinating with North Branch Elementary School and its Parent-Teacher Committee on a project benefitting a local food bank. To celebrate National Ag Week, the three parties collaborated on a seed-to-spoon cereal drive that netted almost 1,500 boxes of the breakfast staple for the North Branch Thrift Shop and Food Pantry.
The Farm Bureau’s involvement was coordinated by Lapeer’s Promotion & Education chair, Michelle Peel.
“Our local food bank said they don’t get a ton of cereal donated,” Peel said, “and we’ve been trying to stay involved in our schools — trying to get innovative and creative, so…”
So the Parent-Teacher Committee took the lead on the student cereal drive that saw North Branch Elementary’s 800 students amassing 1,484 boxes of cereal for donation.
“When they texted me last Friday and said they had almost 1,500 boxes of cereal I about fell down!” Peel said.
Lapeer County Farm Bureau matched the cereal donations with a $1,000 cash contribution to the food pantry.
“One of the great things about our Farm Bureau,” Peel said, “is if it’s a good cause they’ll put the money behind it to support it.”
The Pantry plans to put that cash toward purchasing a locally raised steer that’s already got an appointment (shhh!) with a local processor, where he’ll become a six-month supply of ground beef for distribution via the local food bank.
Some students donated cash as well, which was pooled and used to purchase more cereal from a local grocery store.
“They bought 900 boxes of cereal from Bryan’s Market, so that money stayed local,” Peel said.
The county Farm Bureau also provided educational boxes to all of the school’s 36 classrooms.
“Our education boxes were modeled on the FARM Crates from MFB but focused specifically on grain and cereal production” to jive with the campaign’s overall seed-to-spoon theme, Peel said. Each box included an ag-accurate book, educator’s guide, Michigan Ag in the Classroom lesson plans and all the supplies for students to do a cereal-based activity.
Another Farm Bureau asset brought his social media talents to the table, helping document the effort so it could be shared back with North Branch students. Lapeer board member Kip Seigler edited together the group’s video segments — including an epic cascade of cereal-box “dominos” on the gym floor — for use in an upcoming virtual assembly piece for the entire school to enjoy.
Eager to pitch in, local Farm Bureau Insurance agents Dustin Jones and Brent Kilgore stepped up to the challenge as well. Jones paid off all outstanding student lunch balances at the school, while Kilgore provided a pizza party for the two classrooms that generated the most donations.
A local convenience store popular with North Branch students also go in on the act. Sunrise Convenience Stores donated pizza-slice gift certificates to students in the classroom of each grade that brought in the most donations — total value more than $1,250.
“That’s the really cool thing about North Branch,” Peel said. “We had half the town pitching in to help each other out.”