Sweet corn says summer in Missouri like sultry afternoons, baseball and lemonade stands. This week, hundreds of families in central and northeast Missouri will have fresh sweet corn to enjoy thanks to a partnership between the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) and the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
A vacation Bible school class from Midway Heights Baptist Church boarded a bus Wednesday and headed to Bradford Research Center, where they waded through an acre plot of sweet corn to harvest the delicious, sweet maize. In a few hours, they loaded 2,207 pounds of sweet corn onto the Food Bank’s donation truck.
“When it comes to fresh produce—that is so, so appreciated,” said Todd Pridemore, coordinator of special events and food drives for the Food Bank. “I’ve had the opportunity to deliver a few loads of fresh produce to our central panty and it’s gone within a day or two. Things like this will be so valued.”
Tim Reinbott, superintendent of Bradford, and Eric Lawman, research specialist at Bradford, provided guidance for the group on how to harvest the corn and helped them load their buckets. Bradford has already donated more than 1,500 pounds of zucchini, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers to The Food Bank this season.
The efforts are part of an ongoing project, called Collaborating for a Healthy Future, utilizing the College’s expertise, partnerships and knowledge in such areas as agriculture, economics and nutrition to boost donations to The Food Bank.
“This partnership has been tremendous,” Pridemore said. “The Food Bank is so thankful for CAFNR in so many ways. The Float your Boat event back in April—and I just can’t say how much CAFNR and the leadership there invested in that and helped not only make it a great event, but helped raise awareness in the community about The Food Bank, the needs we have and the opportunities for people to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Thus far, the College has pledged to:
- Plant two acres of fresh sweet corn to provide 14,000-28,000 ears for the Food Bank.
- Coordinate Healthy Food Drives on the CAFNR campus.
- Donate 500 lbs. of lean beef, 500 lbs. of quality pork and other fresh meats.
- Continue research programs, such as the Food Pantry Nutrition Project headed by Sandy Rikoon, Curators Professor of Rural Sociology and director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security at MU, to determine best practices in obtaining and distributing healthy food.
- Raise awareness of the need for healthy donations to the Food Bank’s Buddy Pack Program (8,000+ children each week receive food to supplement their lunches).
- Encourage CAFNR’s 20 outstate research centers throughout Missouri to create partnerships with their local food banks to address rural community food issues.
- Encourage CAFNR faculty, staff, alumni and students to volunteer at the Food Bank.
- Sponsor an annual fundraiser called the Float Your Boat for The Food Bank Cardboard Regatta. In this April event, college and community teams will build cardboard boats to race across a lake.
Last April, 20 intrepid teams constructed boats from cardboard and raced them across Philips Lake for glory, and to raise awareness of the Food Bank’s mission and needs. Next year’s Float Your Boat is scheduled for April 20 at Bass Pro Shops in Columbia.