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Georgia Farm Bureau donations help fight hunger
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MACON—Effingham County Farm Bureau members recently collected $500 in donations for the Georgia Food Bank Association during the statewide Harvest for All campaign coordinated by Georgia Farm Bureau.

“Many of us know someone who is struggling to find life’s most basic needs,” said Stuart Exley, Effingham County Farm Bureau president. “While we as farmers are focused on providing food and fiber for our consumers, we also wanted to lend a helping hand to our neighbors.  The Harvest For All Campaign is a way we can make a difference for folks who might not know where their next meal is coming from.”

Georgia Farm Bureau’s statewide 2011 Harvest for All Campaign, coordinated by the GFB Young Farmer Committee, raised $20,000, which was presented to Georgia Food Bank Association (GFBA) Executive Director Danah Craft during the 2011 Georgia Farm Bureau convention on Jekyll Island. The GFBA uses donated dollars to purchase high-protein, low-cost foods like chicken and peanut butter and to offset the costs of various outreach programs like mobile pantries, Manna drops and backpack programs.

The GFBA will distribute the funds to seven regional food banks around the state.

“Demand for food assistance in Georgia has grown 30 percent a year for the last two years,” Craft said. “Persistently high unemployment is changing the face of hunger in Georgia. Working families, the unemployed or underemployed, seniors and children make up 1 in 6 Georgians who need food assistance.

“We are thankful for the generosity of Georgia Farm Bureau members who provided this donation and also to those who donate nutritious fruit and vegetables to our food bank network throughout the year.”

The Center on Hunger and Poverty defines food insecurity as occurring “whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain.” The Center defines hunger as “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by a recurrent or involuntary lack of food and is a potential, although not necessary, consequence of food insecurity.”

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service report released in September, 14.6 percent of U.S. households were food insecure between 2008 and 2010. The report indicated that 16.9 percent of Georgia’s households have low or very low food security, a rate surpassed by just four other states.

Since 2004, GFB has coordinated seven Harvest For All campaigns through which GFB members from across the state have donated approximately 49,000 pounds of staple food items and more than $60,000 in cash donations. These donations have been distributed to food banks located throughout Georgia affiliated with Feeding America.

In 2005, GFB members collected 17,000 pounds of food, which were donated to victims of Hurricane Katrina in Hancock County, Miss.

Georgia Farm Bureau, the state’s largest general farm organization, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2012. The organization has 158 county offices, and approximately one out of nine Georgians are involved with Farm Bureau. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors.

GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia.