Behind the Scenes

Missouri agriculture’s fight against childhood hunger going strong

The eight-year-old nephew of one of my colleagues spent the night with a friend from school. The boys rode the school bus to the friend’s home and played the games that young boys play in the yard until it was dark outside, when they moved their games into the bedroom shared with siblings.

As the evening wore on, the 8-year-old visitors stomach began to growl. “When are we going to eat?” he asked his little friend.

“Oh, we eat at school,” answered the voice of innocence.

Food insecurity is defined as not having enough food for an active, healthy life. It means little boys and little girls go to bed without supper, not because they have misbehaved, but because there is no food.

Sadly, people living in America’s rural areas and farm communities face a higher probability of experiencing food insecurity and hunger than those who live in urban counties far from the fields where crops are grown.

Many hard-working and capable men and women whose families have lived in a rural community for generations are sliding deeper into the well of poverty. Some choose that life. Most, however, do not.

Children have the least ability to do something about their situation. Struggling with hunger can mean chronic illness and developmental problems. Hunger can negatively impact a child’s ability to learn and finish school. How can they be expected to thrive when their poor little bodies are running on empty? When they grow up, they are less likely to overcome the economic challenges that lead to food insecurity.

One in seven Missouri children is food insecure, not knowing where their next meal may come from. In some parts of rural Missouri, as many as one in three children are food insecure.

To ensure Missouri children have the food they need to thrive, the state’s agricultural community launched Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids in 2017. At the end of 2023, this partnership had raised resources to provide 12,323,695 meals for children and families across the state.

2024 is off to a great start. During the recent Western Farm Show, FFA Chapters banded together to fight food insecurity. Members donated a record number of food items and monetary donations that equaled 5,695 meals.

Brownfield Ag News has been a partner and sponsor of Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids since its inception. The drive has become a year-round effort, kicking off in January with the 4-H Feeding Missouri campaign and continuing with Hogs for Hunger. FFA Food Insecurity Service Day and other meal packing events are held during the state fair in August. Throughout the year, additional canned food drives, meal packing, monetary donations and gifted food items help get Missouri food products on the plates of hungry Missouri children.

Donations are distributed statewide through Feeding Missouri, the association of Missouri’s six regional food banks.

Visit Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids to learn more and join the effort.

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