THORNTOWN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An FFA chapter in Boone County is trying to help people who are struggling to keep food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, the teenagers are helping farmers who have fallen on hard times themselves.
It is called the Milk & Meat for Boone County campaign.
The Western Boone FFA has collected monetary donations. That money is being used to purchase milk and meat, which are then donated to food pantries in the county.
“We’re trying to help our farmers and our community,” said Breanna Wiley, vice president for the Western Boone Co. FFA. “It (the pandemic) has impacted their lives, their jobs, their income. So, food might be an issue. We do not want anyone to go hungry.”
WEBO FFA used $1,000 of its own money to seed the fund. The students are now challenging the community to give $7,500 toward the milk and meat campaign. So far, they have raised $6,000.
The FFA members said it has been a team effort, between seeking donations and contacting and negotiating with meat and milk processors, such as Prairie Farms Dairy, to secure products at a discounted price.
“I had to contact Prairie Farms and Indiana Dairy Association on my own,” explained Audrey Knoper, chapter treasurer for the Western Boone County FFA.
Knoper, a sophomore, is learning important business skills while attending Western Boone High School in Thorntown.
“I had to talk to them, coordinate and calculate how much milk the pantries needed,” said Knoper.
Knoper said the American Dairy Association Indiana is helping WEBO FFA coordinate Prairie Farms’ delivery of 500 gallons milk monthly to the food pantries in Boone County.
The program has even caught the attention of Governor Eric Holcomb who mentioned the effort during one of his press briefings this week.
“They’re raising money to buy milk and meat, and then to supply the local food pantries. Talk about folks stepping up,” said Holcomb. “Of all ages, of all stripes, of all background, (they’re) addressing a central need in that community.”
The milk market has been disrupted by the pandemic with restaurants and schools closed. That weakened demand and created a glut of milk on the market.
While this campaign will not make up for those losses, it does provide these FFA members a chance to say thank you to farmers who have helped them.
“During this difficult time, as they’re struggling, this is our time to stand up and do what we can to help them in return,” said Wiley. “They’ve shown us how to serve our community.”
The dairy industry is generational for Wiley. Her father, grandfather, and great grandfather raised dairy herd. She shows compassion for dairy producers who have hit hard by the pandemic.
“Our effort is to try and help farmers as they’ve helped us for years,” said Wiley. “Their selfless acts have taught us so much.”
Because of financial support from an anonymous donor, the Boone County Farm Bureau and the Boone County 4-H Dairy promoters, monetary gifts will be quadrupled.
For now, WEBO FFA is preparing the program to run for three months.
“If donations keep coming, we’re going to do this as long as we can…because we’ll never know how long the effects of this are going to last,” said Wiley. “And even after that, people getting back on their feet will be difficult.”
Editor’s Note: Donations can be made through the chapter’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/weboffa/
They will also accept checks: mail to Western Boone FFA, attention Lori Keppel, 1205 IN-75, Thorntown, IN 46071. Please make checks out to Western Boone FFA.