22 farms and businesses give to FFA food drive

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 December 2014 at 12:00 am

27,000 pounds of food goes to several food pantries

Photos by Tom Rivers – Albion FFA delivers produce donated by local farmers to Community Action and other local food pantries on Saturday morning. Community Action was the drop-off point in Albion, with several food pantries coming from Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina.

ALBION – When the Albion FFA first organized a food drive for Community Action during the holidays in 2010, the student organization was able to secure 3,000 pounds in donations. That jumped to 9,000 pounds in 2011, 17,000 the following year and 19,000 in December 2013.

This holiday season, the FFA and local farmers shattered the previous efforts with 27,000 pounds. That was too much for one tractor trailer.

The FFA and FFA alumni put the calls out to agriculture community, seeking food donations. This year, 22 farms and agriculture organizations shared from their harvest.

“It’s getting bigger and better every year,” said Anni Skowneski, case manager at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

There lots of boxes or bags of apples, cabbage, potatoes, squash, eggs and ham. Those are staples from past FFA food drives. This year there were new products for the pantries, including yogurt, bread, cheesecakes and beets.

Adam Krenning, the FFA advisor, said students work hard on the food drive for weeks. They spent most of the past week, collecting and arranging the food for Saturday’s delivery to Community Action. Students and FFA alumni go to about half of the farms to collect the food, while the other half is delivered at the FFA’s ag shop at the high school.

Students make many connections in the farm community as well as with local agencies with the annual food drive. They also see the giving nature among the farmers, Krenning said.

“The farmers in the area are incredibly generous,” Krenning said. “They know there is a need.”

The FFA serves as the middle man, connecting farmers with the agencies and food pantries.

Rachael Escobar works in the kitchen at the Eastern Orleans Community Center in Holley. She and other volunteers brought two pickup trucks and filled them with food for 160 food boxes that will go out just before Christmas.

FFA member Elizabeth Bentley hands a box of squash to volunteers on Saturday morning.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” Escobar said Saturday outside Community Action in Albion. “We’re going to be sure our families have fruits and vegetables for Christmas.”

Farmers and businesses that participated in this year’s food drive include Call Farms, Costanzo Bakery, Barry Flansburg, Kast Farms, Kirby Farms, Kludt Brothers, Kreher’s Egg Farm, L. Brooke Farms, Müller Yogurt, Nesbitt Fruit Farm, Orchard Dale Fruit Farm, Orleans County Farm Bureau, Panek Farms, Partyka Farms, Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot, Rich Products, Dale Root, Root Brothers, Starowitz Farms, Torrey Farms, Triple G Farms, and CY Farms.

“We donate to this project because we have been so blessed,” said Kerri Panek of Panek Farms in Albion. “It is our privilege to be able to give back to help others.”

Clayton Stanton, a member of the FFA, spent several hours Saturday morning lugging 50-pound boxes and bags. Stanton, a senior, said he and the FFA students look forward to the food drive each year.

“It helps people and it makes you feel good,” he said.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley helps move some of the produce from a tractor trailer to vehicles for local food pantries.