Sandy Courtnage Commentary: “Feeding America – a Great Way to Give”

Living and working in the heart of Montana ag country, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are many adults and children who are hungry every day in our communities and across the state. But, more than 15 percent of rural households nationwide are food insecure.

Further, the nationwide statistics are that one in six people is struggling with hunger, including more than one in five children. This number is simply unconscionable. I can’t help but think about the amount of money spent on this past election cycle, which has been estimated to be around the two billion dollars. Instead of volleys of insults being traded across the airwaves, imagine all the good that amount of money could have accomplished across our country.

I hope you will indulge me for moment as I share my own commercial.

For the second year in a row, Farmers Union organizations across the country are participating in an effort to meet a challenge grant to benefit the Feeding America effort to help hungry families.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has offered a very generous challenge match to raise funds to feed the hungry across America. For every dollar donated in the name of Farmers Union, up to $50,000, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation will contribute a matching dollar to Feeding America.

Howard Buffett is a farmer and philanthropist with roots in the Midwest, and an advocate for Feeding America’s fight against hunger. The challenge grant provides a medium for the agricultural community to support hunger relief and help their neighbors in need. And, while the fund raising effort is coordinated at a national level, Feeding America sends the funds from each state’s members back to food banks serving their local and state communities. Any giving truly does help our local communities – our own friends and neighbors. The resources reach people who are facing hunger at food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, homeless shelters, youth programs and after-school programs.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Every year, Feeding America reaches 37 million hungry Americans, nearly 14 million of them children and 3 million seniors. Their network of local food banks uses donations so efficiently that each dollar donated is worth $17 in food and groceries. A single $50 donation translates into 400 meals. The Buffet challenge is a chance to double that impact. Each dollar donated is worth $34 in food.

Just this morning, on my drive in to work, I learned about the MTPR fall fund drive and its partnership with the statewide food bank network. It is a great opportunity to stretch your contribution dollars, and I, in no way, want to encourage anyone to redirect their funding effort. However, if it is in the realm of possibility, please consider this other giving option as well.

Donations can be made on-line by going to a link at montanafarmersunion.com, which will take you to the national giving effort. This is a great way to give – and make sure your efforts also stay local.

Sandy Courtnage writes for the Montana Farmers Union.

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