No matter what they raise, grow or produce, Ohio farmers are in the business of feeding America. To showcase the importance of that role, two programs in Ohio are working with farmers to fight against food insecurity in the state.
Produce Growers and the Ohio Ag Clearance Program
The Ohio Ag Clearance Program, which began almost two decades ago under former Gov. George Voinovich, is a state-funded partnership between the state of Ohio, Ohio’s foodbanks and Ohio farmers.
“The program works to direct wholesome, nutritious, Ohio-raised, surplus fresh produce, meats and eggs through the state’s network of foodbanks and community hunger-relief services and onto the tables of Ohioans facing food insecurity,” says Erin Wright the program’s director.
Wright says that through education and collaboration with several agricultural commodity organizations, the program now has more than 100 farmer partners, including Buurma Farms in Willard, Maple Drive Farms in Pandora and Arrowhead Orchard in Paris, among others.
The program not only helps those who suffer with hunger, but the farmers and state as well, and Wright calls it a perfect collaboration.
“The program is highly efficient and cost-effective. The state is able to make a meaningful difference because funds support both Ohio farmers and people in need, the farmers have a market for surplus foods, and food-insecure Ohioans have access that they otherwise would not have to fresh, wholesome, Ohio-produced foods,” she says.
Dairy Farmers and the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge
While the Ohio Ag Clearance Program supplies food to all those in need, it recognizes the importance of healthy food for children especially, as does the American Dairy Association Mideast (ADA Mideast).
The Association works on behalf of Ohio dairy farmers to provide science-based dairy information, and currently is one of several proud sponsors of the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge, a statewide initiative to increase and sustain student participation in school breakfast programs to ensure they start each day with proper nutrition.
“Dairy farmers have been committed to children’s health and wellness for more than 100 years,” says Scott Higgins, president and CEO of ADA Mideast. “School breakfast programs are especially important and may positively impact a child’s nutrition and learning. Research shows that better nutrition, starting with breakfast, can help students reach their potential in the classroom.”
Higgins says ADA Mideast helps contribute on behalf of dairy farmers by providing tools, grants and other resources. Plus, every breakfast served at school includes one to three servings of nutrient-rich dairy foods.
“Milk, cheese and yogurt contribute important and essential nutrients to the school meal programs. In fact, milk is the No. 1 food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium in children’s diets,” Higgins says. “Not only is this good for improving children’s health, it’s good for Ohio’s dairy farm families, too.”