Sometimes it’s good to remember that part of our fabric isn’t limited to corn, soybeans, diesel and propane.
The cooperative roots of service run deep and span miles throughout the communities in which we do business. Appropriately, of course, since our business is built on the cooperative spirit of helping one another reach a common goal.
Harvest Land believes in a culture which reflects the importance of service to others, and we created our Cultivating Communities program to allow that culture to thrive. Cultivating Communities encourages Harvest Land employees to volunteer eight service hours annually to organizations that align with her personal values.
Pack Away Hunger is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and others who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. It’s a group that our farmer-members and employees have become familiar with over the last three years, as we’ve partnered with local churches and FFA chapters to pack meals that went on to local food banks and also Mission Guatemala.
In March twenty-three churches, nine FFA chapters, various community organizations and Harvest Land Co-op employees and farmer-members partnered for the 5th annual Pack Away Hunger event, which packaged 162,216 nutritious meals to be distributed. The meals went specifically to Gleaner’s, Midwest Food Bank and eleven more local community food pantries which will receive between 1,000 to 10,000 meals, depending on their size and the area they cover.
The meals, which more than seven hundred volunteers prepared over multiple shifts, were formulated to provide a rich source of easily digestible protein, carbohydrates and vitamins needed by a malnourished body. They consist of high-quality white rice, fortified soy, a blend of six dehydrated vegetables and twenty-one vitamins and minerals. They’re packaged in fourteen-ounce bags.
Part of Harvest Land’s purpose is to do what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. We really cannot think of a better organization of which to partner to align with our cooperative’s purpose. We had several employees spend their Saturday at Pack Away Hunger, working towards a common goal to take care of one another. It’s what rural communities do, and we’re proud to be a part of it.
But what happens after the Pack Away Hunger Event? After the bags are sealed and the trucks are loaded and the hair nets – beard nets for some Harvest Land employees – are tossed in the trash never to be seen again? How do those eight hours committed by our farmer-members and employees go on to serve others?
Here is one example. You can see the local Western Wayne FFA chapter working at First Church in Hagerstown to distribute food during the monthly mobile food pantry. Part of this offering was food that we packaged at Pack Away Hunger.
And just last week we received these photos directly from Guatemala:
The following were taken at ‘Tat Loy’ a drug and alcohol rehab center in San Lucas – Toliman. This particular location is a recipient of the rice meals that we packed for their residents. There are more than 72 individuals at the facility currently.
Right now the building is a two story building with a small deck on the roof but they are expanding the second story and building a full covered deck on the roof, which will become the third floor, to serve more occupants. In these photos they are building a frame around the a rebar column in advance of pouring a concrete column that will eventually support the upper floor.
We thought it pretty special that the meals we packed one morning earlier this spring are not only feeding neighbors who may typically go without, but also the people of Guatemala whom we’ll likely never have the opportunity to meet.
We’re doing what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. Sometimes, that includes hairnets, cups of rice and assembly lines rather than 16-row planters and seed tenders.
And we’re ok with that.