Through our 19-month Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) and our Advanced Leadership Training (ALT) for FFA instructors, community groups and agricultural partners, the IALF takes a holistic approach to addressing the food concerns of the global community – through agribusiness and commodity groups, on the family farm, at food production companies, through volunteer organizations to feed underserved populations, and in local communities that nurture the lives of thousands of agricultural workers. Our graduates do not sit on the sidelines; they are actively engaged in meaningful work to end hunger at home and around the world.
Jason Kieser (Class of 2018)
Jason is proud of his family’s service to those struggling with hunger, and he continues active service at the food bank in Bloomington, Illinois. Realizing the problem of hunger in their community, the Keiser family established the Midwest Food Bank (MFB) in Bloomington in 2003. Since then, it has grown from their farm shed to a distribution network serving over 900 organizations in Illinois, Georgia, Indiana and Florida.
On December 1st the MFB received a donation of $12,911 for the purchase of ground pork in an initiative partnered by the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Soybean Association to help those in need this holiday season. Those groups also partnered with Steidinger Foods of Fairbury and Calihan Pork Processors of Peoria in this donation which in total, will amount to 15,000 pounds of ground pork donated to MFB.
Food given by the MFB now reaches 750,000 in need each month and with the help of producers, will continue to make a difference in the lives of many in these communities.
Melanie and Ron Warfield (Class of 1984)
When the Eastern Illinois Food Bank came to Gibson City 2 years ago and made a plea for someone to establish a food pantry, it was hard for Melanie and Ron Warfield to see the need. Even though the group cited a large number of seniors who were food insecure, it was difficult for them to picture it.
But they embraced the cause and were able to bring together 9 area churches and the Gibson Area Hospital to organize Gibson Area Food Pantry (GAFP). They opened the doors in January 2015. Every two weeks GAFP provides food for about 150 families and 300 individuals. GAFP also provides backpacks to those in need of food at the elementary school and the students at the Head Start School, in addition to providing boxes of food to the local police department to hand out in emergency situations. Ron is the fund raiser and president of the operating board, and there’s a rotating schedule of organizations to provide volunteers to distribute the food. During Saturday distributions, 40-50 volunteers serve the clients – which include delivery to about 55 customers who do not have transportation or are unable to physically come to the pantry.
Brian Anderson (Class of 2014)
For the last two years, Brian Anderson has been serving as an Ag Consultant for GOYA Ministries as they establish their school near Ngong, Kenya. This high school will educate young people who have grown up in the Kibera Slum in Nairobi.
Situated on 15 acres, the group’s goal is to use part of the land for ag education and production; teaching the children about the opportunity of agriculture in Africa while producing food to be used at the school. In 2015, Brian made two trips to Africa. During this time he worked with members of the East African Food Bank, a division of the Midwest Food Bank. Recently, he scouted farm ground for potential soybean production. The East African Food Bank has been working with a product called Tender Mercies, a high nutrition supplement available for food insecure people, developed in Kenya, by Kenyans. Currently, soybeans are imported for this product and there is a desire to produce these in country. Brian is working with Kenyan government to bring this project to fruition.
He plans to return to Kenya to assist in facilitating a 2 day Agriculture Workshop for the young people at the high school. His hope is that these workshops will be repeatable twice a year as the youngsters launch their small plot field projects. Also on that next trip, he intends to finalize the installation of irrigation and drainage at the school for improved yields.
Norbert Soltwedel (Class of 1984)
This is where our graduates and program participants thrive. Our graduates work:
- to expand grain shipments to 3rd world countries;
- to help food production companies source raw materials sustainably and with reduced environmental footprints;
- to responsibly grow crops and raise animals;
- to spearhead efforts of organizations fighting world hunger, such as the World Food Programme of the United Nations, local food banks and capacity-building education for farmers in developing nations;
- to help on-the-ground with farmers in underdeveloped countries; and
- as policy and decision makers to facilitate trade and environmentally sound practices.