The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) and its Young Farmer & Rancher Committee began tracking food donations last year as part of its “Harvest for All” program. After crunching the numbers, they confirmed donations well in excess of 215,626 pounds (almost 108 tons) of fresh, local produce going to feed hungry people right in their own backyards.

“Many farmers across the state have been making food donations for years,” explained YF&R Chair, Ryan MacKay of Lilac Hedge Farm in Berlin, MA. “We started tracking the numbers to see what kind of impact these individual donations can have and it’s really pretty impressive to see how it all adds up.” For many farmers, donations are not just a one-time event. They make time in their schedules every week to arrange pick-ups and drop-offs to the food banks, and the guests of these organizations absolutely love it.

“Fresh produce is one of the most important items that we can distribute to our guests,” said Ken Campbell, Food Coordinator for Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence, MA. “Because of the logistics involved in delivering and storing fresh foods, it makes for more work, but it is work that we’re happy to have.”

Harvest for All began thirteen years ago, as a joint effort between the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. It is a national community action program through which farmers and ranchers can help ensure every American has access to fresh, healthy food. While the program is led by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, farmers of all ages contribute to the effort. Through the coordinated efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers and Harvest for All, the equivalent of 46 million meals made it to the tables of those who needed it during the past year.

“The farmers in our state are concerned about hunger and have given generously,” said Dr. Richard Bonanno, MFBF President. “We plan to continue helping those around us who deal with hunger on a daily basis.”