NEW PARIS — Members of the National Trail FFA chapter spent the second day of their Thanksgiving break packing 500 bags for local food pantries.
Volunteers from the chapter came together on Tuesday, Nov. 21, to put together bags consisting of two meals each — making for a total of 1,000 meals contributed to the community by the students.
Each bag included ingredients for two meals, along with recipes the kids picked out themselves. The meals were distributed throughout food banks in the county.
This is the third year the event has been held. According to Carmen Kennel, one of National Trail’s two FFA advisors, the event began as an idea the kids brought from the leadership conference in Washington D.C.
“They wanted to do it and there is a need for it in Preble County, so we keep doing it each year,” she explained. “We received two grants this year to pay for the food. The first one is from Ohio FFA Foundation/Ohio Agricultural and Rural Community outreach program. We also received a grant from Cargill Cares.
“That covers all the food expenses and then we received our bags from Becks Hybrids. Our students organized this and they found the cheapest price for an item. We purchased our food from ALDI and Walmart. The kids found the recipes from Pinterest, they chose a chicken casserole and a southwest soup.”
She added, all 40 of the student participants were FFA members who volunteered their time and can use the experience to receive degrees from FFA. There were also parents volunteering their time, as well as representatives from Cargill Cares and an FFA alumni.
“We believe it is important for our students to learn to give back to society and our community. This is an excellent way to do this,” Kennel added.
Eric Kennel, also an NT FFA advisor, agreed with Carmen Kennel that the event is important to teach the students the value of community and community service.
“The different thing about our program is that we teach kids about our community and to help others. This is how they can give back,” he said. “We’re feeding 500 families. Some programs do one item that feeds five people, but this is a meal, not a side item. Plus, this is student-driven.
“We are an agriculture-based program, so trying to give food back is key.”
As for the reception of the program from the foodbanks, Pastor Jeff Ginter said programs like this are not only important for teaching kids the important of volunteering, but also extremely important for the people foodbanks service, who are only able to get a few meals from the banks, due to a high demand.
“This is another great opportunity to better serve our people. We appreciate anytime we can get a meal or two meals, because what we’re able to provide is four to five days of meals and for a lot of people that is all they get for the month,” he said. “This creates more opportunity to provide meals for more families and especially during the holidays.
“I believe the opportunity to serve others puts us on a whole new path. It puts us on a path to solve more problems. When we keep others in mind and look at things from their point of views, it shows us a better way. Starting young people out early gives them a better perspective.
“Anybody that I know who has ever served, they normally don’t talk about the people they serve, but talk about the joy and passion that they receive. I believe this is a benefit moving forward from a generational standpoint,” Ginter said.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH