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Food to the Field: Feed-A-Farmer program shows gratitude to producers

Each year around harvest time, farmers are often in the fields or on the road for hours and hours at a time, taking food when it’s convenient.

However, the Austin High School FFA group has been doing what it can to make sure farmers are getting meals.

For another year, the club has split up and taken bagged lunches to Northern County Co-op locations throughout the area where farmers and producers can pick up some food.

“Feed a farmer is a community service project that we encourage our students to take part in to show thanks and appreciation to the farmers of the Austin community,” said Austin ag teacher Nick Schiltz.

While there are chapters around the United States that do similar things, the Feed-A-Farmer program is a creation of the Austin FFA group.

It is one that has a meaningful effect on the students taking part.

“Feed -A-Farmer is by far one of our most impactful events,” Schiltz said. “No other events seem to bring the community closer together in so many ways. The students love to be a part of this.”

Katelyn Maloney, a senior at AHS and officer-at-large for the club, was one of those students who took the lunches to the co-ops.

She enjoyed not only being able to bring the food to the farmers in the field, but also just being part of FFA in general.

“I like that my dad was also a part of it,” she said. “I like that I’m in it as well. FFA is like a big family.”

Maloney wants to be able to work with animals after graduating but she also wants to maybe be an ag teacher or FFA advisor.

She see’s being able to bring lunches to the farmers as an opportunity to further connect with the agriculture industry.

“I mainly took away the gratitude because we were thanking them for all they do,” she said. “If there were no farmers, there would be no food for us. They are a big source of food.”

Even though the students were able to take part in another year of Feed-A-Farmer, changes were made because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had to. Instead of having specially made sandwiches, we had to purchase premade sandwiches,” Schiltz said.

Not only does Feed-A-Farmer  do something for the ag community, it is another part of what FFA can build in a student.

“We hope it builds leadership, communication and allows them to see many of the same people in the community as well as allows people to see them as future ag leaders,” Schiltz said.

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