Feeding Rural Families at Husker Harvest Days

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Statistics say that one in seven rural households struggle with hunger, and local officials say central Nebraska is not immune.

"Right now we have 300-500 families that seek the food pantry services every month in our area which is Hall, Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick Counties," said Heartland United Way President Karen Rathke.

To keep those local pantries full the Heartland United Way, ag company Monsanto, and Husker Harvest Days are teaming up for the America's Farmers Food Drive. Food vouchers and free admission for FFA students in return for donations are keeping the scales busy.

"The FFA kids that come out and collect food ahead of time and bring that food out [creates] an awareness," said Rathke. "That next generation giving back to the community is what it's all about, and there's a lot of rural families right now that are struggling."

Monsanto will be giving a dollar for every pound of food collected at Husker Harvest Days up to $10,000. The company says keeping food on everyone's table is important to them.

"As a company solely based on agriculture we know how important it is to advance the methods and the tools to be able to feed a growing population," said Annie Kayser, Monsanto's Community Outreach Coordinator.

Kayser says even though rural families are often involved in feeding others, they sometimes need help too.

"Part of my job is to advocate on the behalf of farmers," she said. "They are doing what they can to feed the world, but they also need as much help as they can get."

The Heartland United Way says they'll be using the Monsanto-match money to purchase perishable food for the pantries in an effort to promote health meals.

Donations can be dropped off at the Husker Harvest Days gates on Thursday, or at Skagway, Hy-Vee, and Super Saver in Grand Island through Friday.

Rathke says anyone interested in future donations should contact the United Way office to find out which pantries need their shelves stocked.

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