By DeLoss Janke
“Hunger is the right issue for FFA, and it’s fully aligned with our values and our vision,” said Ryan Best, 2011-2012 National FFA President. “Hunger is a battle we must win.”
FFA members attending the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo will have many opportunities to join the fight against hunger, and advisors can take home practical ideas to address hunger in their local communities. It’s all part of “Feeding the World–Starting at Home,” the organization’s major initiative aimed at reducing domestic and global hunger.
A major highlight for the convention and expo will be the FFA Rally to Fight Hunger at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. FFA members, advisors and volunteers will package one million meals in just two-and-a-half days. Half of the meals will be distributed in central Indiana to provide relief to food-insecure residents. The other half of the meals will go to fight hunger in Haiti, which is still struggling from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
FFA is teaming with the humanitarian food-aid organization Kids Against Hunger to coordinate the rally, which will require 10,000 volunteers. “There are 20 different work shifts scheduled during the rally, and each shift is roughly 50 minutes,” explains Larry Moore, executive director of the local KAH affiliate. “Each shift produces 50,000 meals, so we will be packing 1,000 meals per minute, until we end up with 1 million meals.”
Moore hopes the rally will be a starting point for those participating. “Growing up, I thought of hunger as something that happened in a country far away,” Moore says. “It was probably a country I couldn’t spell or pronounce or find on a map. But hunger is right here in the U.S.—it’s literally in our backyards. And so, if FFA members come away with an understanding that hunger is not just an overseas issue but a local issue, that’s a big win in my mind.” For more information about the FFA Rally to Fight Hunger, visit www.FFA.org/Rally.
Hunger will be a central piece of other convention and expo activities. During the opening sessions, the audience will hear from FFA members who are struggling with food insecurity. Many members will take part in the National Days of Service, which include assisting such groups as Gleaners Food Bank, St. Vincent De Paul and Second Helpings. These organizations are committed to fighting hunger and serving needy residents.
The expo will feature the accomplishments of the FFA: Food For All grant program. Over the past year, 140 chapters in 41 states received up to $2,500 to develop yearlong service-learning projects focused on implementing sustainable hunger programs. The application deadline for the 2013 FFA: Food For All grants is this December. Go to www.FFA.org/FoodForAll for more information.
“Our nationwide hunger initiative fits perfectly with the FFA motto of ‘Living to Serve,’” says Dwight Armstrong, CEO of the National FFA Organization. “We believe no one is better positioned to address hunger than the FFA members preparing to be tomorrow’s leaders in providing food and nutrition for a growing planet.”
And no one is in a better position to set FFA members on the path toward ending hunger in local communities than agricultural educators. While the National FFA Convention & Expo is a great launching pad to create awareness, the real success will come when FFA members engage back home to ensure no one has to struggle with hunger in the future. Resources abound for teachers to drive home the point that the person a student sits next to everyday in class may be experiencing food insecurity.
Check out these resources:
FFA Feeding the World–Starting at Home
Hunger lessons and more
Living to Serve lessons to help students address the need
World Food Program lessons and activities (scroll down the page to find)
The Hunger Site
Feeding Minds Fighting Hunger lessons from Ag in the Classroom
Bread for the World website