With the help of the community and the Future Farmers of America chapter, Midland handed out 1,250 boxes of food to families Oct. 7.
The food came courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Family Food Boxes. Each box handed out is pre-packed with 10 pounds of fruits and vegetables, 5 pounds of cooked meat (chicken or pork), 5 pounds of dairy products and a gallon of milk. The program is part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced in April. The USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need.
“I had received an email from Perfect Pact - an organization that was an awardee of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. They were awarded a large portion of the state of Iowa and were reaching out for distribution partners to receive and hand out free food boxes,” Midland Science Teacher Jamie Christiansen said of how the district got involved. “In the email, it stated that we had to be able to accept a full semi (1,250 boxes of food), able to unload pallets from the truck, able to distribute quickly boxes as they contained dairy, milk and meat.”
After discussion with Perfect Pact, setting up the time and the date, the planning moved toward how to make it work on the day, including acquiring the equipment necessary to unload the supplies. Through volunteer help, Corey Guenther provided the necessary equipment and the rest of the necessary volunteers followed.
“Pick up went surprisingly well, but we attribute it to the amazing adult volunteers and numerous student volunteers that helped load boxes of food and milk into peoples' vehicles. We did contact the food pantries in Olin, Wyoming, Oxford Junction and Lost Nation so that they would share the information with people in their communities,” Christiansen said. “Some even sent people over to collect boxes that were then delivered to individuals. Some of our students even took some boxes around to community members in Wyoming that may not have been able to travel.”
The result is that all 1,250 boxes of food were picked up or delivered by 6 p.m.
Christiansen said she reached out to Chelsea Arensdorf, the Anamosa FFA advisor to see if she might be able to get something like this set up for Anamosa and that Midland may try to do it again toward the end of the month if Perfect Pact still has money and food to distribute.
By Oct. 9, another delivery had been set up for Oct. 26 at the Anamosa High School. The pickup site will be in the back parking lot of the high school from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.