INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, March 6, 2012/National FFA Organization) – – On a recent visit to an east side community center that serves thousands of free meals to children each week, Dwight Armstrong noticed something that concerned him. Children eating lunch at Shepherd Community Center were served juice – not wholesome, nutritional milk.
“I asked, ‘Why aren’t these children drinking milk?’” said Armstrong, who is CEO of the National FFA Organization. “The answer was that the center couldn’t afford it.”
Shepherd director Jay Height shared with Armstrong a vision he has, which is to provide Indiana food from Indiana farmers for Indiana children his center serves. That same day, Armstrong began tapping into relationships he built during a 30-year career in the agriculture industry.
One of Armstrong’s first calls in an attempt to secure milk for the center was to Fair Oaks Farms in northern Indiana. During the conversation, co-owner Mike McCloskey mentioned one of his key employees had a seventh-grade son who is a member of Boy Scout Troop No. 152 in Rensselaer. When Joel Ordones heard about Shepherd’s needs, he volunteered to lead efforts and find donated food items.
Ordones, 13, wrote, rewrote, submitted and pitched proposals to three high-profile Indiana companies that produce milk, beef, pork and eggs. After months of determination, the first round of donations Ordones secured were delivered to Shepherd on Feb. 12, including hundreds of gallons of milk donated by Fair Oaks Farms. Ordones also secured hundreds of pounds of beef donated by Fair Oaks Dairy Farms, hundreds of pounds of pork donated by Belstra Milling Co. in Demotte, Ind., and dozens of eggs donated by Rose Acre Farms in Seymour, Ind.
“We’re so pleased and thankful for the efforts of Joel Ordones and the generosity of Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks Dairy Farms, Belstra Milling Co. and Rose Acre Farms,” Height said. “We’re thankful to be able to provide Indiana meat, milk and eggs to the families who depend upon this center to survive.”
Shepherd pays only the cost of packaging and processing for the donated food. Because of financial support from the Indianapolis Colts organization, Shepherd is able to offset these costs. “The Colts organization applauds the efforts of this young man and is happy to help ensure the best nutrition possible for the children that Shepherd Community serves,” said Pete Ward, chief operating officer for the Indianapolis Colts.
“Joel recognized the need for meat, milk and eggs in the diets of the children and families who rely on Shepherd Community Center and used his networking and leadership skills to make things happen,” Armstrong said. “Joel is an incredibly committed and caring young man and I am astounded by what he was able to accomplish.”
Shepherd Community Center is a faith-based, inner-city ministry that opened in 1985 and works with neighborhood youth and their families fighting poverty by engaging and empowering them to cultivate healthy children, strong families and vibrant neighborhoods through a Christ-centered approach.
“This is another example of how Joel’s Boy Scout training has taught him how to complete goals and perform good deeds to help those in need,” said Fair Oaks Farms manager Julie Basich.
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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 540,379 student members as part of 7,489 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online (http://www.FFA.org), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nationalFFA), on Twitter (http://twitter.com/nationalFFA) and FFA Nation (http://FFAnation.FFA.org).
About Fair Oaks Farms
Fair Oaks Farms is a dairy farm located on Interstate 65 at Exit 220, centrally located between Indianapolis and Chicago. The farm operates a dairy adventure, café and gas station and receives about 450,000 visitors annually.
About Shepherd Community Center
Shepherd Community Center is a faith-based, inner-city ministry that has operated on the near Eastside of Indianapolis since 1985. It was officially organized as Central Nazarene Mission, and was renamed Shepherd Community Center in 1988. Shepherd Community Center works with neighborhood youth and their families to break the cycle of poverty on the near eastside of Indianapolis by engaging and empowering the community to cultivate healthy children, strong families, and vibrant neighborhoods through a Christ-centered approach that meets the spiritual, physical, emotional, and academic needs of our neighbors. A core set of programs make up a Continuum of Care, which is available to participants from birth through adulthood. The comprehensive services include emergency/basic services, preschool/early elementary, after-school and summer programming, college access programming, family relationship programming, job training and placement assistance. Shepherd serves more than 500 families (1,000+ individuals) annually.