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Greenwood/Loyal FFAs use ‘Fight Hunger’ grants in local efforts

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, local FFA chapters have been helping in efforts to support dairy farms and businesses as well as provide food for families in need. As people get back to work and businesses reopen, these chapters plan to continue their efforts, receiving funds to continue their support of the dairy industry and families throughout June Dairy Month.

The Greenwood and Loyal FFA chapters have each received $500 from the newly created Rally to Fight Hunger Chapter Grant. The grant, created after the annual Rally to Fight Hunger event held during State FFA Convention in Madison was cancelled, gave out $18,000 in funds to help efforts by local FFA chapters in feeding those in need.

The two FFA chapters were among 36 FFA chapters in the state to receive the grant. Stephanie Donnerbauer, FFA advisor to the Loyal chapter, said the first word about the new grant came out in early May as the chapter was in the midst of providing dairy handouts through its Alumni Dairy Drives.

“I found out about the grant on May 9 through e-mails put out by the Agriculture Educator Listserve,” she said. “I applied for the grant right away hoping that it would be applicable to the Loyal FFA Alumni’s Dairy/Ag product handouts … The Loyal FFA always enjoys participating in State FFA Convention’s Rally to Fight Hunger so it was a neat way to be able to give back locally.”

The Greenwood chapter also heard about the grant and made the decision to apply. Loghan Hallett, the Greenwood FFA advisor, said the chapter had been working with the school and the food pantry located at the Missionary Baptist Church in Greenwood to provide gallons of milk to families during the “Safer at Home” order.

“We’re really jazzed about it,” she said. “When this all started, we were thinking about ways to help the dairy industry. Our first donation was of 150 gallons of milk to the school lunch program. We had a lot of fun with that. We had a little bit of money left over and we contacted the Missionary Baptist Food Pantry and asked if they would like us to fill their fridges with milk. They were totally into that and we gave them 20 gallons. They really appreciated it.”

Both Donnerbauer and Hallett said that the timing of the grant couldn’t be better. With the pandemic having effects on the normal way of life in central Wisconsin, they said their chapters have been trying to do the best they can to help out through their handouts.

“The pandemic did affect our decision to apply for it because normally we would not have these handouts going on,” said Donnerbauer. “They have been in response to these changing times.”

“We were out of money,” said Hallett. “There was no way to continue (giving out milk) until this grant came along.”

The grant funds are expected to be sent to both chapters in the near future. Once the grant is received, Donnerbauer said the Loyal FFA will use the funds to purchase dairy products for its Alumni Dairy Drive. Each drive, she said, costs between $1,000 to $1,500 to hold and helps more than 150 families within the Loyal School District gain access to dairy products.

“These dairy drives have not only been a great way to support local farmers and businesses who are struggling during the pandemic, but also a way to support local families whose lives have changed so much because of being home from school and possibly work,” said Donnerbauer about the Dairy Drive. “The dairy drives also provide a great boost in morale. People love receiving the products, businesses enjoy showing their support, and we have received lots of great feedback in person and on social media. The $500 grant will help with one drive. However, we have many other local businesses supporting the alumni in this endeavor.”

Hallett said the funds going to the Greenwood FFA will be used to continue its donations of milk to the Greenwood Food Pantry. The pantry has had an increase in the amount of people needing assistance since the end of March and she said it is important for the FFA to continue to help provide milk because of its importance as a staple food.

“They are open every other week and with $500 we could give them nine or 10 more donations,” she said. “They (the Food Pantry) have been so grateful. We thought it was a super good plan, and I think the people getting stuff feel the community support.”