Mid-South FFA members package 40,000 meals for needy during Farm and Gin Show

It was a beehive of activity as scores of youngsters from tri-state FFA chapters joined forces Saturday morning at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show to package more than 40,000 meals for the needy, which were delivered to the Memphis Food Bank for distribution to rural and urban counties in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Also pitching in were a number of farmers, ginners, and other show attendees who volunteered for the effort.

The Farm Show Feeds project was started at the 2013 show, and the FFA volunteers packaged 10,000 meals that year. It was done with such efficiency and speed that the goal for the next year’s show was doubled — and easily met by the energetic youngsters. Last year, they more than tripled that first year’s effort, and this year they racked up another 5,000-plus.

“It was awesome to see the energy and enthusiasm of these youngsters as they pitched in to help with this project,” says Tim Price, Executive Vice President of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and show manager. 

“Everyone who saw these youngsters at work was just amazed at how enthusiastic, energetic, and focused they were on the work. One observer told me, ‘I’ve just never seen anything like what these young men and women were doing to help others.’  That they were willing to give up a part of their weekend to help others speaks well of the work ethic of today’s youth and the ideals of FFA.”

Members participating in the project were from Brighton FFA, Brighton, Tenn.; Covington FFA, Covington, Tenn.; Dyersburg FFA, Dyersburg, Tenn.; Halls FFA, Halls, Tenn.; Munford FFA, Munford, Tenn.; Collierville FFA, Collierville, Tenn.; Lafayette FFA, Oxford, Miss.; and Dyer County FFA, Newbern, Tenn.

“Farm Show Feeds is an offshoot of Memphis Feeds, which works to combat hunger in the greater Memphis area and beyond,” Price says. “Because of the more than six decades influence of the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in the region, and because of agriculture’s key role in the Mid-South, we feel it’s important to be a part of humanitarian efforts such as this.

“So, for the past several years we’ve collaborated with various associations, including Mid-South Food Bank, to increase awareness of anti-hunger efforts. We have collected funds and food for the Mid-South Food Bank and other organizations, such as Feeding America. When we became aware of this initiative, we felt it was the next logical step in our outreach efforts.

“We’re always looking for ways to tell agriculture’s story, to make the general public more aware of what farmers do, and this sort of effort helps to show that we’re more than just producers of food — that we also have a concern and a compassion for those less fortunate. We’re grateful that a number of corporate entities, as well as many farmers and other individuals, have contributed funds for this effort.”

Major contributors of funds for purchasing the food ingredients this year were Regions Bank, Vandergriff American/SOWEGA Manufaturing, Dow AgroSciences, Memphis Rotary Club, AgXplore, AgWatch Network and Hargett Farms.

“We appreciate the generosity of all who helped to support this effort financially. As awareness of this effort spreads each year, more and more people contact us, saying ‘I want to contribute,’” Price says.

Ingredients for the meals came from Outreach, Inc. The organization says each package provides six nutritionally complete servings. The meals, developed in cooperation with internationally-recognized nutritionists, include rice, fortified soy protein, vegetables, and essential vitamins and minerals. A macaroni and cheese dish has also been developed for distribution to local food banks and pantries for distribution to the needy.

Price expressed appreciation to those who made monetary contributions to purchase food items for this year’s effort.

“It was money well invested,” he says. “It’s incredible how much good, nutritious food can be provided for such a small amount of money — $25 will buy 100 meals; $250 will buy 1,000. That’s a really great return.”

FFA members who participated in the Farm Show Feeds food packaging effort were:

Brighton, Tenn. Chapter: Samual Bowen, Noah Bowers, Jacob Chandler, Ethan Dent, Hunter Elam, Hayden Elam, Jamie Fore, Amber Grey, Brandon Hill, Patrick Branum, Jodi Porter, Phillip Shelton, Kendall McLillie, MarySelle Lea, Conlee Lea, Kelley Ann Rice, Gracie McIntyre, Matt Carroll, Preston Cline, Hunter Stephens.

Collierville, Tenn. Chapter: Jordan Sawyers, Christie Sawyers, Taylor Hiatt, Tammy Hiatt, Walker Ogale, Luke Adams, Jake Gibbs, Becky Adams, Coleman Roberts, Parker Bell, Logan Baldwin, Will Fisher, Brooke Hollaway, Julia Hunsberger, Brandon Gray, Sarah Saetang, Brandon Moore, Abby Fowler, Kaeli Pendleton, Chandler Meier, Sarah Shipp, Anna Trotter, Savannah Hood, Hunter Smith, Josh Sanders, Johnathan Lemmons, Taylor Baughman, Chris Schulte.

Covington, Tenn. Chapter: Alexus Gooden, Mycal Bandy, Nathan Oliver, Luke Yates, Auburn Davidson, CJ Cunningham, Averi Cole, Ryan Wick, Caleb Sims, Tyler Rowland, Phillip Langlois, Blake Stringfellow, Storm Smith, Haley Timberlake, Chase Murray, Sam Poole, Tinesha Somerville, Laura Burns, Cody Schoonhoven, Alyssa Van Vleet, Nick Varner, Tyler Higdon, Kaitlyn Poole, Justin Varner, Ashli Ford, Liz Flanagan, Denise Shires, Billy Shires, Greg Mullins, Ace Lewis, Catherine Turner, Kevin Pilkington, Collin Embry, Madison Miller, Laura Patrick, Lora Bishop, Bryan Cole.

Newbern, Tenn. Chapter: Jacob Tribble, Destiny Gammons, Olivia Childress, Jay Thompson, Kelsea Koonce, Emmy Mealer, Connor Hester, Rachel Hill, Grace Anne Deal, Malory Cartwright, Olivia Lock, Hannah Collins, De`Andre Caldwell, Lindley Brock, Hannah Owsley, Lynsey Butler.

Dyersburg, Tenn. Chapter: Kayla French, Jordan Seyl, Maggie McLaurin, Stacie Nichols, Lana Howe, Allie King, Jenna Porter, Breanna Elkins, Abby Adams, Allan Houston, Jansen Rhodes, Aislinn Lowry, Neil Bringle, Cindy Elkins, Neil McLaurin, Amy McLaurin.

Halls, Tenn. Chapter: Windy Willette, Ally  Cherry, Conner Wright, Ashlie Pruitt, Chase Ward, Brianna Burse, Sarah Pery, Shelby Orchard, Rhett Heinemeyer, Hannah King, Alex Hutcherson, Kandice Chipman, Kami Wright, Kevin Wright.

Lafayette County, Miss. Chapter: Megan St Peters, Michael Fortner, Makayla Buck, Destiny Wilson, Robert Martin, Raegan Ramage, Alyssa Camfield, Edi Kent, Riley Arbuckle, Walker Westbrook, Thomas Hinton, Olton Kent, Shana Kent, Jennifer Arbuckle, Jason Kent, Tony Arbuckle, Rana Ramage, David Ramage, Meredith McCurdy Rhodes, Shawanda Brassell, John Victor Arbuckle, Shyleigha Smith, Brooklyn Savage, Keyanna Buford, Heather Perkins, Samantha Johnson, Colton Summerford.

Munford, Tenn. Chapter: Autumn Adkins, Patricia Anderson, Jackson Arthur, Victoria Auth, Emily Blank, Preston Bouler, Taylor Bryan, Devn Chapman, Collin Clark, Justin French, Courtney Garrett, Madison Gray, Erin Holmes, Garrett Martin, Abigail McConnell, Autumn Meredith, Taylor Moreno, Shannon Pierson, Shelby Pierson, Brianna Reames, Jessie Roberts, Rebecca Sanders, Sierra Schulz, Keegan Schulz, Madison Shellengerger, Cody Smith, Thomas Woelfle, Jen Smith, Vicki Schulz, Ashley Bringle, Karen Woelfle.

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