?Illinois Farmers Encouraged to Help Feed Rural American Families

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

??One in seven rural households struggle with hunger and an estimated 2.8 million households in rural America need food assistance.  Illinois farmers can help rural Americans fight food insecurity by participating in the America’s Farmers Food Drive in Decatur, Ill., from August 30 – September 1, during the 2011 Farm Progress Show.

Monsanto Company, Farm Progress and the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois will sponsor the third annual food drive to benefit local food pantries.  In addition to collecting food, Monsanto will donate $1 per every pound of food collected, up to $10,000.  Each of the three benefiting pantries serves approximately 1,000 individuals per month in the Decatur area.

“We’re proud to work with Farm Progress and the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois to host our third annual food drive together at this year’s Farm Progress Show,” explained Linda Arnold, Monsanto Customer Outreach Lead.  “The average American farmer feeds 155 people each year.  The Farm Progress Show is a perfect venue to help United Way feed more families in need.”

Visitors to the 2011 Farm Progress Show can drop donations off at any of the four entrance gates.  Each day, the first 500 farmers who donate nonperishable food will receive a $5 food voucher for use during the show. FFA students who donate will receive free admission to show.

"The America's Farmers Food Drive is just one way the Farm Progress Show is pleased to bring support to the community and area where the show is located," said Matt Jungmann Farm Progress national events manager. "We hope every show visitor brings a non-perishable food item to the show to donate."

Food donations also will be accepted through September 1 at the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois facility, located at 202 E. Eldorado, Suite B in Decatur, Ill.  Food collected at this location will be included in the $1 per-pound Monsanto match.

“Often times people don’t think rural families struggle with hunger, but many in the area need help,” said Chad Clevenger, director of community impact with United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois.  “With the support of Monsanto and devoted community members, we are excited to see all the donations brought in this year.  We fully expect to surpass the 2009 Decatur-area Farm Progress Show food drive, which collected food and money donations equivalent to 42,600 pounds of food.  Every bit helps.”

Plan to attend?The 2011 Farm Progress Show will be held Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 1 in northeast Decatur, Ill., south of I-72 and east of Richland Community College. The exhibit field is open to visitors Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Show admission at the gate is $12 for adults and $8 for students ages 13 to 17. Children under 12 are admitted at no charge. Discounted advance adult admission tickets are available on the show's website. The public is welcome. For a full schedule of events and more detailed information, visit