The American Farm Bureau Federation is launching a new effort to address food insecurity while celebrating the strength of the U.S. food supply and commitment of America’s farmers and ranchers to keep it strong. The #StillFarming campaign, which began on social media, is now expanding to a merchandise line that will benefit food banks and agricultural education.
The COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns in March 2020 caused disruptions to the food supply chain, resulting in empty grocery shelves in parts of the country. When alarmed Americans resorted to panic purchasing, AFBF created the #StillFarming social media campaign to build public confidence in farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to produce food and reassure consumers of the strength of the U.S. food supply.
#StillFarming has reached nearly 100 million people across the digital landscape, building confidence in the U.S. food supply and trust in farmers and ranchers by sharing the challenges they are overcoming to feed America and the world.
Building on its popularity and recognizing the dramatic increase in hunger in America brought on by the pandemic, AFBF created #StillFarming to Feed America T-shirts and committed to donating all profits. Half will be donated to Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger relief organization, and half of the profits will go to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
“Despite all the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, there’s never been a question that America’s farmers and ranchers would continue supplying healthy, affordable food and it was important for us to assure the public of that,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The success of #StillFarming is a credit to Farm Bureau members across the country who took it and ran with it. It has been inspiring to see their stories from across the country and I’m pleased to build on the campaign to help address hunger through our partnership with Feeding America.”
AFBF first partnered with Feeding America in April, coauthoring a letter to USDA calling for a federal program to help deliver farm-fresh products to food banks facing unprecedented demand. At the time, many farmers had no destination for their products due to restaurant and food service closures. The letter and subsequent meetings with USDA contributed to the formation of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
The new partnership between AFBF and Feeding America also builds on a long history of partnerships between county and state Farm Bureaus and Feeding America’s local and regional food banks. Since the pandemic began, state and county Farm Bureaus across the country have donated $5.4 million and 1.4 million pounds of food to local food banks, food pantries and pandemic relief programs. According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 Americans are affected by hunger in the pandemic. This includes 2.2 million rural households.
“COVID-19 presented a perfect storm of increased demand, declines in food donations and overall disruptions to the charitable food system. Food banks across the country are working hard to support their neighbors in need,” said Katie Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Feeding America. “We are grateful to AFBF for their commitment to fighting hunger and for providing everyone with the opportunity to give back.”
The pandemic also increased consumer curiosity about how food is produced. Giving the public a window into agriculture and how food is grown is part of the mission of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. Recognizing that #StillFarming helped tell agriculture’s story, it’s fitting that profits from #StillFarming to Feed America T-shirts will further that cause.
“The Foundation is honored to be a partner with AFBF on this program,” AFB Foundation Executive Director Daniel Meloy said. “Funds received through the #StillFarming T-shirts will help us continue to reach kids all across America and help educate them on where their food comes from.”
The T-shirts are being sold through AFBF’s online shop at FB.org/StillFarming and will be available through June.