BILLINGS- As family and friends gather for Thanksgiving this week, approximately one in eight Montanans will be struggling with hunger. While farmers and ranchers produce food to feed the world, they also take time to help those in need.
For eight years, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee has hosted the Hoofin’ it for Hunger half-marathon, 10K, 5K and virtual races to support the Montana Food Bank Network financially. This year’s race was held at Fort Keogh in Miles City on Oct. 6.
“Well I think it’s extremely important that we have the opportunity to give back,” said Circle rancher Gilman Gasper, who chairs the MFBF YF&R Committee. “As producers, we do feed the world, but this is a way for us to give back. We might have an abundance of food, but some people have a shortage in their houses. It’s great to put this race on in Miles City and work in conjunction with the Research Center at Fort Keogh and raise this money for the people in Montana that are in need. Those $6,000 we raised this year transfers into a lot of meals for people around the state that need that food. The Montana Food Bank Network partners with all the food banks around the state and they can help move that product around the region to the people that need. It’s a great relationship we have.”
The young farmers and ranchers have hosted the event for the past eight years. The money they have raised in that timespan have fed thousands of Montanans.
“This event is in its eighth year and has been really impactful,” said the Montana Food Bank Networks Bill Mathew. “We’ve raised so much money. Over $51,000, which equates to over 153,000 meals, that we’ve been able to provide to people in need across the state of Montana. It’s really great working with the young farmers and ranchers that helped put it on. We send one person from our staff every year to volunteer and run a race, and it’s just really well run and created a great relationship.”
The Hoofin’ it for Hunger race also connects consumers with farmers and ranchers.
“Another aspect of the race was to reach out to different groups,” said Gasper. “When we originally started the race, it was a 5K in Missoula. The race just allowed us to reach out to a different group of individuals, a lot of runners, many live in town and from more urban areas. It allowed us to get a presence with them and face to face interactions. One of the main reasons why we do it now in Miles City is we can get out on the trail and run at Fort Keogh and promote the agriculture research that is done there and just have a great time. We’ve had people from all over the country, and people from out of the country come to the race. So, we have a pretty good presence, and every year our race gets bigger and better and allows us to talk about production agriculture and give back at the same time. It helps us get our message out there while we’re helping people that are in need.”
The Montana Food Bank Network needs food and monetary donations year-round. If you would like to contribute, visit their website mfbn.org. If you are interested in participating in the 2019 Hoofin’ it for Hunger race visit the Montana Farm Bureau website mfbf.org.
Story by Lane Nordlund, MTN News