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William Lambers partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book “Ending World Hunger.”
I just visited the Burwinkel Farms stand in Delhi, Ohio, and everything looked perfect. There was corn, peaches, tomatoes and other yummy foods in abundance. Customers were coming in droves to purchase this very healthy food. Many of us might take for granted the farm stand in our communities or the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
What we don’t see is the hard work in getting that produce there in the first place. We don’t see the farms struggling with the weather. Sometimes it’s drought making it harder to grow the food. Sometimes it can be too much rain and flooding. We don’t see the struggle to hire staff for a seasonal job. The farm stand is often short of workers leading to longer, harder hours.
We don’t see the daily struggle with high prices that farmers have recently endured, in some cases forcing them to raise the cost of their products. We don’t see the long hours of picking the produce early in the day and organizing and delivering to its destination or market.
It’s not easy being a farmer. But they are the foundation of our community because they provide our food. So if you get a chance, please say thank you to a farmer on Labor Day.
Farmers also play a vital role in supporting the fight against hunger. For example at Burwinkel Farms they have donation jars at their stands collecting for local food banks. This allows them to give money and fresh produce to the local hunger relief agencies. For a food bank to get fresh produce is a major windfall.
That support for the food banks is extra important during this year of higher food prices, when so many families in America are struggling with hunger. Food banks are having a harder time getting donations. So the fresh fruits and vegetables they get from Burwinkel and other farms is especially critical this year.
Farms play such a huge role in fighting hunger in America and across the world. When countries are distressed and can’t produce their own food many times it is American agricultural products that are sent to save lives and provide stability.
During and after World War I and World War II, American farms saved millions of lives with their donations. It was the initiative of farmers in 1947 and 1948 that filled boxcars of food for the Friendship Trains that fed war-torn Europe ahead of the Marshall Plan. As part of Europe’s recovery from the war, help from America’s farms was crucial; this effort was extended to other nations through the subsequent U.S. Food for Peace program.
As President Dwight Eisenhower once said “There is no form of overseas assistance which this country is better able to provide than the supplying of American farm products and agricultural science.” Today, American farms are vital once again to help the many nations in danger of famine because of war and climate change.
Back in 1946 a Labor Day article in the Baltimore Sun said of farmers “We ought to salute them too, they feed us.”
On this Labor Day, when you are at the farm stand or even through social media, take a moment to say hi to your local farmer and say thank you for their hard work.