Missouri 4-H'ers raise more than 1.7 million meals to fight hunger

  • Published: Tuesday, June 6, 2023

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri 4-H clubs across the state have finished the fifth annual 4-H Feeding Missouri initiative. Each year, 4-H partners with Feeding Missouri and Missouri Farmers Care’s Drive to Feed Kids to bring awareness and raise resources addressing food insecurity.

Last fall, during University of Missouri Extension and Engagement Week, 4-H challenged participants across the state to fight hunger. From January through April, 4-H’ers participated in a friendly competition to raise the most meals for local families. They held food drives and fundraisers, volunteered services and provided education and outreach activities. Through these efforts, 4-H members raised the equivalent of 711,268 meals this year for food-insecure Missourians, bringing the five-year cumulative total to 1,723,331 meals.

“I am so proud of the work 4-H and MU Extension have done to fight food insecurity,” said Lupita Fabregas, director of Missouri 4-H. “Our goal is to help Missourians through service-learning programs, and 4-H Feeding Missouri is a great example of our success.”

4-H clubs could apply for matching mini-grants through a donation from Missouri Farmers Care Foundation. More than $4,000 was awarded to 17 Missouri 4-H clubs to help further their efforts during the drive. To add an educational component to the grants, many youths spoke about food insecurity and promoted their food drives in their schools and to local organizations.

Campaign proceeds go directly to Feeding Missouri, a coalition of the state’s six major food banks that provides hunger relief through a network of more than 1,500 community-based food programs.

During a May 31 virtual event celebrating the drive’s success, Moniteau County 4-H members were recognized for raising 51,459 meals, the most of any Missouri county for the second year in a row. Moniteau County 4-H’ers will receive a small stipend to help them kick off next year’s event and will be showcased in Missouri 4-H’s outreach for the 2024 4-H Feeding Missouri campaign.

“The need for food assistance has reached levels higher than prior to the pandemic,” says Heather Hargrove, executive director of Feeding Missouri. “There are families in every county across the state that aren’t sure where their next meal will come from. Our neighbors continue to experience the challenges of rising food prices and transportation. Missouri’s food banks rely on partnerships like these to help raise critical awareness, funds and food to help provide access to nutritious foods for the growing number of seniors, children and families in need. These efforts will directly impact the communities most affected by these challenging times - especially in rural communities where the need continues to be significant. Partnerships like this demonstrate the power a few can have on the many, and we are very grateful for their continued support and commitment.”

Missouri Farmers Care Foundation’s Drive to Feed Kids continues food security efforts throughout the summer. Swine exhibitors are invited to commit pigs to feed neighbors in need through the partnership’s Hogs for Hunger initiative. Up to 50 pigs will be accepted at the Missouri State Fair with Feeding Missouri providing reimbursement of $0.80 per pound live weight for committed hogs. Missouri Farmers Care Foundation will cover processing of these hogs. The foundation asks State Fair exhibitors to indicate their commitment at www.MOFarmersCare.com/drive.

“Missouri youth are building a stronger future for their peers through 4-H Feeding Missouri and the Drive to Feed Kids,” said Ashley McCarty, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care Foundation. “It is fulfilling to see the heart of agriculture expressed by Missouri youth donating much-needed food to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, over 1.1 million Missourians facing food insecurity.”

About Feeding Missouri

Feeding Missouri is a coalition of Missouri’s six major food banks that works to provide hunger relief to every county in the state and the city of St. Louis through a coordinated network of more than 1,500 community-based feeding programs.

About Missouri Farmers Care Foundation and Missouri Farmers Care

Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri's agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our communities depend. The coalition of more than 40 leading Missouri agricultural groups promotes the growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education, and advocacy. For more information, visit MOFarmersCare.com.

Missouri Farmers Care Foundation enables Missourians to understand the influence and importance of agriculture in their daily lives by serving as the centralized hub of the unified educational programs, awards and hunger relief efforts of Missouri’s agricultural community.

About Missouri 4-H

More than 55,000 members strong, Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information, visit 4h.missouri.edu.


Some members of the Eager Eagles 4-H Club in Moniteau County at a food drive. Moniteau County 4-H’ers raised 51,459 meals in the 2023 4-H Feeding Missouri campaign, the most of any Missouri county.

Writer: Sherry Grace

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