Miami County Farmers fund local food pantries

MIAMI COUNTY — Every kernel counts to feed Miami County residents in need.

Each year, local farmers have the opportunity to donate bushels of grain during harvest at the Troy Elevator for the Miami County Farm Bureau’s Bushels for Hunger Program. The monetary amount of bushels donated is given to Miami County food pantries at the end of the harvest season. The program was started in 2008 and local farmers of Miami County have given more than $50,000 to Miami County food pantries over the years.

Taylor Watkins, organization director of the Miami County Farm Bureau said, “This program is focused on fulfilling a need in Miami County and it wouldn’t be possible without the generous farmers that have given to the program.”

On Wednesday, Watkins joined Needy Basket volunteers in Tipp City to present their check of $1,280. This year, local farmers have donated more than $11,000.

Watkins shared one Miami County farm operation donated an entire semi load of grain —a donation worth $8,000.

Jim Sommer, chairman of Needy Basket, said cash donations such as the Miami County Farm Bureau’s donation means the pantry can purchase a lot more food for people.

Needy Basket manager John Brenner said, “We will spread it around as much as we can.”

Brenner said cash donations can stretch the pantry dollar farther through wholesale programs to keep their pantry stock around 12 to 15 cents per pound.

The donations have been split up and distributed to nine different Miami County food pantries. The recipients of $1,280 each are First Place Food Pantry, Troy View Church of God, Troy Christian Church, Needy Basket, New Path Outreach, Covington Outreach, Bethany Center, Greene Street United Methodist food pantry, and Fletcher United Methodist Church.

Watkins said donations to each pantry usually are around $800, but this year local farmers were able to distribute $1,280 to each local pantry.

Another part of the program includes an acre field next to the Health Partners Free Clinic and the planting and harvesting were donated by Dwayne Taylor of Casstown. The Miami County Park District also set aside 2.5 acres to benefit the program and the planting and harvesting were donated by David Demmitt of Demmitt Dairy Farms. Bill Wilkins of Wilkins Family Farms donated herbicide and fertilizer for the Bushels for Hunger program.

To find out how you can be involved in the Bushels for Hunger program, call the Miami County Farm Bureau at (937) 335-1471 or email miami@ofbf.org.