GREENFIELD — Just as farmers put food on the tables of American families, organizers of the Farmers Care County Food Drive are hoping attendees of the Hancock County 4-H Fair will help put food on the tables of neighbors in need.
The food drive is an initiative handed down by Indiana State Fair organizers as a way to raise awareness for local hunger needs, said Megan Addison, a Purdue Extension program director. During fair week, extension office staffers will be collecting donations of nonperishable food items for the state’s drive, she said.
All donations made at the Hancock County 4-H Fair will be put to local use through programs of the Hancock County Food Pantry.
State statics show that one in six Hoosiers is at risk of hunger, according to a state fair news release.
More than a million people, including more than 319,800 children, utilize food banks to help fill the gaps.
Food and monetary donations can be brought to 4-H Exhibit Hall at the fairgrounds, where information booths about the Farmers Care County Food Drive will be set up. Every person to make a donation will receive a free ticket to the state fair.
Donations also will be collected during the 4-H Fair parade Sunday. Volunteers will pull wagons along the parade route, and those watching can hand over their donations as the wagons go by, Addison said.
The Indiana State Fair began hosting annual food drives three years ago, said Lesley Gordon, a state fair spokeswoman. Organizers have since encouraged Indiana counties to host similar food drives at the local level, she said.
In 2014, 11,000 pounds of food and $20,000 were donated statewide, Gordon said. She and other organizers are hopeful that the 2015 effort, with a record number 30 counties participating, will see even greater success.
County fairs will total their food and monetary donations one week before the state fair begins. The five counties with the biggest donation haul will receive $200 each to put toward a local hunger initiative.
Tom Ferguson, director of the Hancock County Food Pantry, has been working closely with Addison to organize the drive. Although they haven’t set a goal for donations, Ferguson said he’s excited to see what fair-goers will pull together.
“Any amount is helpful,” he said. “It will all go to good use.”
The food pantry accepts donations of nonperishable food items.
The group’s wish list includes peanut butter, boxes of cereal and canned meats, fruits, vegetables and pastas.
Winning counties will be announced once the state fair begins, and results will be displayed in the Harvest Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair from Aug. 7 to 23 in Indianapolis.