Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Leslie Jordan and Lisa Shumaker
Founders and Coordinators, Farm to Family

Marion, Ohio
Farm Credit Affiliation
Leslie and Lisa's Perspective

Founded and coordinated by sisters Leslie Jordan and Lisa Shumaker, Farm to Family (FTF) teaches families in need how to prepare nutritious yet affordable meals and connects farmers with consumers. The organization is based in Marion, Ohio, where 20 percent of the residents live in poverty.

Leslie and Lisa founded FTF when they realized that some food pantry clients didn’t know how to prepare nutritious meals. For these sisters, who grew up in agriculture and who both work in agriculture-related careers, this was a problem they knew they could help solve.

“Our connection to food pantries showed us that it is not enough to provide individuals with food or money for food,” says Lisa, who is an appraiser with Ag Credit, ACA. “If they do not know how to prepare nutritious meals, food distributed at pantries may go to waste, and food dollars will be spent on less nutritious products.”

In the past three years, they’ve helped more than 300 families improve their nutrition by first demonstrating recipes and then providing attendees with one meal along with a cookbook the sisters developed featuring simplified recipes. The events are held at local food pantries and outreach centers, and also include door prize drawings for kitchen items like slow cookers, baking dishes and electric skillets.

In 2014, FTF expanded into farming, planting a one-acre sweet corn patch. Local food pantries harvest truckloads of corn for their clients, and area farmers assist in planting and maintaining the corn patch, and help harvest the corn.

“Farm to Family has connected area farmers to consumers in need at local food pantries,” says Lisa. “Our fundraising programs have also connected farmers to consumer who can provide financial support for those in need. It is also our hope that collaborations with other community groups helps to break the cycle of poverty in our community.”

Expanding the program again in 2015, FTF collaborated with a local high school to conduct a series of four educational sessions with their most at-risk students. Students learned how to follow a recipe, prepare meals, basics of food safety, budgeting and meal planning. During the last session, students were taken to a local grocery store and given a $35 budget. Students chose meals from the FTF cookbook, and used their budgets to shop for the needed ingredients.

FTF is meeting a need in the community while promoting a positive image of agriculture, and developing relationships with a group of consumers who would otherwise have no connection to the farm.

“It is important that the agriculture industry connects with consumers at all income levels,” says Lisa. “We cannot grow as an industry without building relationships and welcoming dialog with consumers within our own communities."

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