Hunger is as real in farming communities as it is in urban food deserts. Thousands of children, families and seniors in rural areas across the Heartland struggle with food insecurity. Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) is a longtime supporter of Food Bank for the Heartland and is committed to making a difference.
Since 2013, FCSAmerica has sponsored mobile pantries in rural communities within the Food Bank’s service area. The financial cooperative’s employees volunteer at the mobile pantries arranging the food items and assisting clients. This year, FCSAmerica is hosting 14 mobile pantries in Nebraska and western Iowa, beginning in June and running through October.
“While we were aware that hunger is a problem even in farming communities, our work with the Food Bank team opened our eyes to the extent of the need,” said Teresa Mardesen, FCSAmerica’s Community Relations Manager. “We learned very quickly that hunger exists in everyone’s community, no matter how big or small. FCSAmerica decided we could help get more mobile pantries to our rural areas, pairing our pool of employee volunteers with the Food Bank’s delivery system, including its network of agency partners throughout Nebraska and western Iowa.”
Food Bank for the Heartland’s mobile pantry program delivers food directly to communities that have a high need but limited food resources. The one-day distribution is free to individuals and families and includes a variety of shelf-stable products along with perishable items, including a variety of fresh produce and bakery items.
“Farm Credit Services of America is an extraordinary community partner who really understands and supports our mission,” said Susan Ogborn, Food Bank for the Heartland’s president and CEO. “The ongoing support of the company and its dedicated employees enable the Food Bank to distribute thousands of meals through our Mobile Pantry program to families living in rural communities.”
In Food Bank for the Heartland’s 93-county service area, approximately 213,840 individuals (11.8 percent of the population) are struggling with food insecurity. Map the Meal Gap 2017 is a study from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, which provides data on a county level.
“As a financial cooperative owned by the farmers and ranchers we serve, we value the hard work that goes into producing quality food,” said Teresa Mardesen, FCSAmerica’s Community Relations Manager. “We see our partnership with the Food Bank as an opportunity to bridge the gap between the production of fresh, nutritious food and the delivery of that food to those most in need. We feel privileged to be working with the Food Bank to help break the hunger cycle.”
In addition to sponsoring and volunteering at its mobile pantries, FCSAmerica employees also help sort food and pack backpacks at the Food Bank’s headquarters in Omaha.