New Program Helping Farmers Get Unused Food To Utah Families In Need
WEST POINT, Utah – Meat shortages, wasted dairy, tossing vegetables — all of it just a small part of coronavirus-related fallout that has threatened food supply chains.
However, Utah may have found a solution with the “Farmers Feeding Families” program, which was announced by the Utah Farm Bureau on Thursday.
Of all the things grown at Bennett Farms, it is the work ethic that fills Allen Bennett with pride.
“Oh, absolutely,” said Bennett at his farm Thursday afternoon. “I’ve done it my whole life and wouldn’t know anything different. I wouldn’t want to do anything any different either.”
For 125 years, his family has farmed in West Point.
“What a great joy it is to plant a seed, watch it sprout, grow, develop and be harvested,” said Bennett.
Being able to provide food for families is what keeps him going.
Which makes what he had to do last month tough.
“We still had onions in storage to be processed when this came about and because of the sales dropped off to near nothing, many of those onions had to be disposed of,” said Bennett.
Big announcement with @UtahFarmBureau. A solution has been worked out for farmers to get their products to families in need. It helps farmers at a time when processing has been difficult and families who need food. We’ll explain on @KSL5TV tonight. https://t.co/N4WSVXOhe8 #ksltv pic.twitter.com/IrNhvNihSN
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) May 7, 2020
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, closed restaurants and other buyers are not ordering food like they normally do.
That is creating a backlog of produce that Bennett could not do anything with.
“That’s the frustrating thing because we know people need them, people are going hungry, and yet we couldn’t get it to them through the supply chain and have to dump it,” said Bennett.
Cattle ranchers are also having issues because of closed meat processing plants across the country.
However, during a news conference at Bennett Farms, a new program was announced that just might be a solution.
“Today, we’re asking you to be a part of the miracle of agriculture,” said Ron Gibson, president of the Utah Farm Bureau. “We’re trying to drive business to local Utah businesses and help support farms and ranches and get that food to people in need. It’s a perfect solution for Utah.”
Anyone can donate money to the program online. In turn, program administrators buy food from Utah farmers and ranchers.
That meat or produce is processed using smaller, local facilities and given to charitable groups that help families struggling to buy food.
“We can go to that farmer and we can get that product directly to a consumer without all the bureaucracy that goes on,” said Gibson.
Not only does it help farmers move food and make a little money, but it also helps families who need food.
“I think it’s great to be able to supply those things to people who are in need of it,” said Bennett.
Farmers said this could be a model for other states dealing with the same food chain challenges.
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