$600 – Teton 4-H Pig donation to help feed the Hungry
The full-circle nature of this project’s impact spoke to the full funding Teton High School Seniors awarded during this year’s Youth Philanthropy Progam. Teton County Idaho 4-H connects youth with how their food is grown through hands-on learning. They’ve also stepped in to help reduce local food insecurity through youth-driven donations since 2017. Over the last two years, they have provided two 4-H market pigs and over 150-pounds of garden produce to local nonprofits for distribution to food-insecure community members.
While purchasing from Teton Valley producers helps strengthen our local economy, not all people in our area have access to locally-grown (within a 100-mile radius) and/or 4-H raised food, especially those living on limited incomes. Teton County has the highest income inequality in the nation, with rising costs of living, making locally-grown and nutritious foods a luxury that many in our valley cannot afford (U.S. Economic Policy Institute, 2018). Food donations are one immediate tool to enhance access to well-balanced and nutritious meals for those struggling with food insecurity and hunger.
Teton County 4-H wants to help families in our community by giving a locally processed 4-H pig to the Community Resource Center of Teton Valley (CRCTV). Quality meat can be an expensive item to purchase compared to highly-processed foods or fresh produce. 13% of youth and nearly 10% of adults are food insecure in Teton County (Feeding America, 2017). These numbers, while alarming, also do not reflect all families or individuals in-need such as those who are in-between jobs, struggling with debt or medical bills, and/or undergoing other stressful circumstances that cause food insecurity and hunger. The Community Resource Center helps struggling community members by supplying and organizing meals, counseling, and other resources in collaboration with the Teton Valley Food Pantry, Family Safety Network, Seniors West of the Tetons, Teton Valley Mental Health Coalition, and more. When we collaborate with other service organizations, our 4-H hunger relief efforts are able to reach a broader audience and those struggling the most.
The grant funds will pay for the 4-H market hog at market-value at the County Fair, as well as processing in August 2020. Not only will the meat come from an animal raised in our community, the recipients will also receive an excellent product that is raised by a Teton “4Her,” ensuring that the animal was raised with ethical and responsible animal husbandry skills, quality assurance protocols, proper record keeping, and lots of love and care. An entire market pig will be able to yield about 160 lbs. of pork or more. As a reference, if a typical pig weighs at least 200 lbs. at slaughter (most 4-H pigs weigh between 220-270 lbs.) and sells for about $4/lb., then the in-kind value of this donation is upwards of $800, further leveraging the value of this philanthropic donation.
This project will provide community and program benefits, including keeping funds from the sale of the animal within our local community, further cultivating a positive relationship between our 4-H youth and the community, and increasing positive partnerships between organizations working on shared goals. This project will showcase the 4-H youth swine club and the care that it takes to raise a market pig from farm-to-fork. It will foster an appreciation for youth development programs, and local food production that contributes to the rich agricultural heritage in our area. During the last county fair livestock auction, Teton 4-H was especially proud of multiple 4-H animals that were purchased by local businesses and subsequently donated to the Food Pantry. This may have been a positive ripple effect for our Teton 4-H food donation program. It has been an effective lesson in philanthropy for adults and youth, alike.
Students appreciated the collaboration and impact this project brings to the table. The 4-H motto is “to make the best better”—this program certainly qualifies by improving efforts to reduce hunger in Teton Valley, as well as connecting consumers with the people and land that grow our food.