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Farmers Can Donate Directly To Food Bank
Between its “Glean Team” and “End Rows to End Hunger” programs, a southeast Minnesota organization makes it easier for producers to make charitable deposits to its food bank.
  In an agricultural-rich region of the state, the contributions are welcome and needed, says Diana Evans, development projects coordinator for Channel One Regional Food Bank. The name refers to the organization’s purpose to focus (channel) attention on one need – hunger. Established in 1979 with a food shelf for senior citizens, the nonprofit in Rochester, Minn., has grown to a food shelf and a food bank, partnering with more than 200 agencies in 14 counties in southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
  Because it’s a certified member of Feeding America and has ties with other organizations, Channel One gets more bang for the buck.
  “When people donate cash, $1 is enough for five meals with our resources,” Evans says. Five days per week, three trucks pick up food from area retail stores and donor partners to deliver food to programs and agencies throughout their service area.
  “End Rows to End Hunger provides another avenue for people to donate and gives us the opportunity to develop relationships with local growers,” Evans says.
  Through mailings, local ads and phone conversations, she invites farmers to pledge a portion of crop sales or a set amount of cash to go to the food bank. Evans has reached out to about 50 elevators in the area to educate them how the donation program works.
  “Farmers can pledge up to three years of crops or cash at a time,” Evans says. “In addition to the impact the donation can have in the fight against hunger, we also tell them to consult with their accountants about tax benefits.”
  In its second year, the program is just starting to take off.
  “We’ve also developed relationships with local growers to get agriculture surplus like garden produce, apples and potatoes,” Evans says. While some donors deliver their surplus to the food bank, others contact Channel One to send its Glean Team to harvest and transport leftover fruit in orchards and excess produce from vegetable growing operations.
  The extra thousands of pounds of produce were welcome during the last fiscal year when Channel One distributed nearly 9 million pounds of food to about 100,000 individuals. Food distribution was up from 8 million pounds the years before.
  With cuts in the SNAP program and continuing economic struggles, Evans anticipates even more need in the future. She is grateful for the support from donors in agriculture and pleased that Channel One can help prevent excess produce from being wasted.
  Cash donations can be made through the website where volunteers can also learn how they can help. Farmers interested in making pledges should contact Evans for more information.
  “We can all use our talents and resources to make a big difference,” she says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Diana Evans, Channel One Regional Food Bank, 131 35th St. S.E., Rochester, Minn. 55904 (ph 507 271-4355; www.channel-one.org).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #2