Farmers fill the shelves of local food pantries

By on September 11, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
COUNTY—Local area food pantries will benefit from the generosity of farmers this summer and fall when they make good on pledges to donate a portion of their revenue from this year’s harvest.

Through the Kane County Farm Bureau’s Harvest for ALL program, 15 farms representing 27 families, the Elburn Coop, Conserv FS and the Kane County Corn Growers Association, have signed up to participate.

The Farm Bureau has held a Food Check-Out Challenge each spring for the past eight years, during which local legislators fill up grocery carts with food for the local food pantry of their choice.

Farm Bureau President Bob Gehrke said that about six months ago, a group of farmers decided to see if there was interest in doing something in the fall. They had recognized an even greater than usual need for food and other supplies to support families in the area.

“We were shooting for four to six farms, and it has exploded quite well,” he said.

Gehrke, a dairy farmer in the area, donated an acre’s production of hay.

“It got to be a little contest,” said Al Lenkaitis, Jr., Kane County Farm Bureau Director and local dairy farmer.

Lenkaitis donated an acre of soybeans and an additional acre of corn in conjunction with the Ron and Jodie Jaynes family of St. Charles.

Farmers have pledged either the revenue from a set number of bushels of their harvest of hay, wheat, corn or soybeans, or the dollar value of a set number of acres of production, Kaneville farmer Joe White said.

White donated 100 bushels of production from his corn field on Hughes Road to the Elburn Food Pantry. Although the cost of corn has gone down from last year, he said the fall value of his crop should come to at least $300.

The farmer determines which food pantries they want to support and makes the donation directly to the pantry. Those working with the Elburn Coop will let the Coop know how many bushels they want to donate, and the Coop will deduct that amount from their settlement check when they bring their grain to be weighed.

According to Kane County Farm Bureau spokesperson Ryan Klassy, the crops pledged include two acres of corn plus 600 bushels for an estimated 900 to 1,000 bushels, five acres of soybeans (an estimated 250 to 300 bushels), one acre of hay ($400), 300 vegetable plants from a community garden ($1,200), 2,000 dozen fresh eggs, and a weekly van load of fresh vegetables and $575 in cash.

Klassy said the value of all cash contributions and crops contributed or pledged so far is well over $10,000. This amount has been designated by farmers participating in the program to benefit six local food pantries and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, a regional food bank that supports a number of food pantries in northern Illinois.

Non-farmers may participate in the program by making a tax-deductible cash contribution to the Kane County Farm Bureau Foundation or to a food pantry of their choice.

For more information about the program, visit www.kanecfb.com and click on the Harvest for ALL link at the top of the page, or call the Kane County Farm Bureau at (630) 584-8660.

What is it?
Harvest for ALL, a number of local farmers who are donating from their harvest to local food pantries.

Who is participating?
15 farms representing 27 families, the Elburn Coop, Conserv FS and the Kane County Corn Growers Association.

How much is being donated?
Well over $10,000 in cash contributions or crop production pledges.

Where will it go?
Six local food pantries and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, a regional food bank that supports a number of food pantries in northern Illinois.

Want more information?
Non-farmers can also contribute. Visit the website at www.kanecfb.com and click on the Harvest for ALL link at the top of the page, or call the Kane County Farm Bureau at (630) 584-8660.

About Susan ONeill

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