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Farmers and Grain Companies Helping Out in Pandemic
USAgNet - 03/30/2020

With food banks charting unknown territory in the midst of a global crisis, farmers and grain companies in the Midwest are stepping up to help feed those in need. FS GRAIN and Gold Star FS, both members of the GROWMARK System, are now accepting grain donations which will raise money for food banks across the region.

Mike Schaver, grain department manager with Gold Star FS, says he is reaching out to each customer and says donations of any number of bushels will be a blessing during these trying times.

"Here in America, we are accustomed to being the greatest agricultural nation in the world and we know that many of our neighbors' lives and finances have been turned upside down," adds Schaver. "Food banks across the country are trying to navigate unprecedented need while experiencing reductions in donations from the public sector, as well as traditional donations from grocery stores and restaurants."

Customers who make a donation have the option of which local food bank their donations will be sent to. And a growing number of food banks are now participating.

"Though the reality of the COVID-19 crisis means we anticipate challenging days and weeks ahead, we're also beyond blessed to have an extremely passionate community that always answers the call to help our neighbors in need," said Lee Cheney, director of food procurement at Northern Illinois Food Bank. "This includes our farm producers, which have always been amazing allies in our fight against hunger."

Illinois farmer Nik Jakobs who is also a customer of Gold Star FS helped spearhead the idea within the agricultural and grain communities in the region.

"While the idea of grain donations is nothing new, it's the fastest way farmers and the agriculture community can make an immediate impact on the food shortages caused by this pandemic," Jakobs said. "We are the largest, most productive agricultural country on the planet. We can make a difference, and quickly."

In the first few days since the call for donations was made, more $20,000 in donations have been committed, which equates to $160,000 in groceries for neighbors in need.

"This is just the start--we hope this catches fire and food banks across our country can benefit during this time of increased need," Jakobs said.

GROWMARK is an agricultural cooperative with annual sales of $8.7 billion (FY 2019 data) providing agronomy, energy, facility planning, and logistics products and services, as well as grain marketing and risk management services throughout North America. Headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., GROWMARK owns the FS trademark, which is used by affiliated member cooperatives.

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