Member News

Community Foundation Partners with Agricultural Community, Helping 1,300 Food Insecure Families in Jefferson County

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Photo courtesy of Jefferson County 4-H

By Community Foundation of Madison & Jefferson County

In early 2014, the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Madison & Jefferson County (CFMJC), were discussing how to become closer to the agricultural community in the area. Board member Joe Jenner suggested purchasing an animal at the Jefferson County 4-H Livestock Auction and donating the animal to the Jefferson County House of Hope food pantry for their meat freezer. That year, the foundation donated two hogs. Following that positive experience, CFMJC donated three hogs in 2015, and the board continues to set aside unrestricted dollars to donate livestock each year.

In 2016, CFMJC President & CEO Bill Barnes and Marketing & Donor Relations Manager Kelley Hoagland created a flyer promoting livestock donation and how the organization Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry would be covering all processing/butchering costs of donations. The flyer included a note that a resident had sent to the House of Hope along with a small donation. The note read: “I have just been blessed with a new job. I know this isn’t much, but, God has put it in my heart to give something back for all you have done for my family. Thank you for all you do. God Bless You.”

The flyer was shared on social media, and Bill and Kelley personally handed it out to buyers prior to the auction. Bill leveraged his relationships with the business community by calling and emailing business owners. With this level of promotion, donations increased to 15. Those 15 animals were the fourth largest food donation in Indiana that year. The House of Hope did a great job of thanking donors, and the promotion is now a joint effort.

Each year, the livestock donations have steadily grown; 21 animals were donated in 2017, 44 in 2018, and now 90 in 2019.

The momentum created by the Community Foundation has been key in shining a light on youth development, serving residents in need, and fostering the partnerships of nonprofit organizations. The Jefferson County 4-H Fair board has seen the value in working with CFMJC, the House of Hope, and Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry through the livestock auction. When donating animals, more revenue is generated for the 4-H’er, the kids get to know that their animal is helping someone in need, and the importance of agriculture in the community is highlighted. They promote the donation opportunity in their annual letter to past buyers. This year marked Jefferson County Extension Educator Lonnie Mason’s 50th county fair in that position, so the Fair board issued the “50 for 50 Challenge.” The challenge encouraged buyers to collectively donate at least 50 animals to honor his years of service. The donations exceeded their goal.

Ninety animals—6 steers, 67 hogs, and 17 lambs—was quite an increase from the first two hogs donated in 2014 by the Community Foundation.

The House of Hope Board Members were ecstatic to hear the number of 90. They had three livestock trailers ready to haul the animals, but were glad to call on the fourth that they had on standby. In a thank-you letter from the House of Hope following the auction, they shared that the generosity of buyers will “help the pantry provide supplemental food to more than 1,300 food insecure families residing in Jefferson County.”

The Community Foundation is proud to partner with the Jefferson County House of Hope, Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, and the Jefferson County 4-H program in enriching the lives of residents in the community. Each organization is looking forward to seeing what the 2020 Livestock Auction has in store.

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