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Local Farm Bureaus donate cash to help feed the needy

Boxes were ready be sorted filled Monday Northern Illinois Food Bank Geneva.  The NIFB received $9007.00 donatifrom Illinois Farm

Boxes were ready to be sorted and filled Monday at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva. The NIFB received a $9,007.00 donation from Illinois Farm Bureau District 1, which represents Kane, DeKalb, Lake and McHenry counties. | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 1, 2014 6:21AM

A hefty donation will help to put food in the cupboards and milk and other dairy products in the refrigerators of families in need around the Fox Valley area.

“People don’t tend to do food drives for milk,” said Steve Ericson, director of Food Procurement for the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

On Monday, the Northern Illinois Food Bank accepted a $9,007 donation from Illinois Farm Bureau District 1, which represents Kane, DeKalb, Lake and McHenry counties.

Ericson said the donation will help provide more than $72,000 worth of groceries to food pantries in the area and in particular go a long way in supporting their “Milk to Plate” program.

Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders from 18 districts raised the proceeds as part of a national “Harvest for All” hunger relief program during an Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting held earlier this month in Chicago.

Participants were encouraged to drop coins and dollar bills into jars for an annual “Penny Wars” contest. This year, District 1 won the competition by tipping the scale at $2,310.77 which entitled them to take all.

Representatives from farm bureaus in the four counties decided to donate the entire amount of $9,007 to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the lead hunger relief agency in the region.

“This is the first time we won, typically the southern districts end up winning year after year,” said Joe White, president of the Kane County Farm Bureau in St. Charles.

“We put out a concerted effort to raise the most money and it was close,” he added.

Ericson said the donation will support the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s “Milk to Plate” program. He said milk products generally are low on the list of donations if at all, mainly because it is a perishable product.

Ericson said they are working with two dairy distributors to increase the supplies of milk and cheese into the food pantries that ultimately serve eligible households in need of assistance.

The Geneva-based Northern Illinois Food Bank provides supplies to food pantries in 13 counties of northern Illinois.

“The Illinois Farm Bureaus have been one of our major supporters. They recognize the need is just as great in the rural areas as it is in the cities and suburban areas,” Ericson said.

“One of our primary focuses is on nutrition, which is why milk and dairy products is so vital,” Ericson said.

He noted the importance of making sure that everyone has enough to eat.

“We are not trying to just fill bellies, although we are addressing hunger. We also are trying to do it in a very nutritional way so we can help prevent some of the health issues associated with diabetes and obesity,” Ericson said.

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