Members of the Roland-Story FFA Chapter have made it their mission to address food insecurity in their Story City, Iowa, community.
The chapter established a large vegetable garden and donated an estimated 30,000 pounds of produce to local food pantries where it is distributed to local families in need.
In 2016, students decided to take their efforts to the next level. Through a partnership with Meals on Wheels, members connected with low-income senior citizens and agreed to deliver homemade meals during National FFA Week.
“[The project] builds leadership skills and hits on the concept of how important it is to volunteer time and energy to help others,” says agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Brad Taylor.
A $400 Living to Serve Grant provided the funds to purchase ingredients that students in the food science class transformed into delicious soups, stews, breads and salads.
Each year, up to 13 local senior citizens receive meals thanks to the FFA Week project. The meals are packaged in disposable containers complete with student-created nutrition labels, and the large portions of nourishing foods help fill an important gap in their weekly menus.
“A lot of seniors only get meals from Meals on Wheels two or three times a week,” Taylor says. “The portions we deliver provide enough food for them to eat three to four additional meals. One of the biggest comments we get is how big the portions are!”
The FFA members, who go out in teams to deliver the meals, also fill an important need for companionship, according to Maddy Stevenson, a junior at Roland-Story High School.
“We give them something they need, and that puts a smile on their faces,” Stevenson says. “We stay and talk to them [when we deliver the meals], so they get a chance to hear our stories and we get to hear their stories. We become better leaders by going out into the community.”
After four successful years, Taylor is confident the FFA Week project will continue into the future, growing in its reach and touching the lives of both the students who make and deliver the meals and the senior citizens who receive them.
“It’s about more than creating a meal,” he says. “We are doing good in our community.”
To learn more about Living to Serve Grants to fund chapter service projects, visit FFA.org/LivingtoServe.com.
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