Connie Vangilder, Berlin, won $2,500 for the Somerset Food Pantry.
America's Farmers Grow Communities gives farmers the opportunity to win the money for local nonprofit organizations. America's Farmers Grow Communities is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.
Vangilder filled out an application for the grant, "then totally forgot about it," she said in a telephone interview.
"I received a phone call that I had won and they had to refresh my memory what it was about," she said. "My husband (David) thought to give the award to the food pantry. It's hard to think that people in our area go hungry. We're farmers — we think of food, whether dairy, beef or grain, farmers give a product to the people. Often people go to the grocery store and they don't realize where their food comes from. People — farmers — make it possible."
The Vangilders own more than 300 acres and rent more, for a total of 1,000 acres. They own 700 dairy cows and milk three times a day.
Cathy Schmuck, site director of the food pantry, said the money will be used to purchase food for the 100 or so people the pantry feeds each week.
When the Vangilders presented the check to the food pantry at a ceremony on April 11, it was the first time that Connie had visited it.
"It was amazing, there were people who are working but having difficulties and people who have lost their jobs," she said. "When 1,700 people are laid off at one time, there are not many places where they can go to get work."
Hunger in Pennsylvania is at the highest level the USDA has ever recorded, with one in 10 of the state's population facing food insecurity, according to the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center. The Somerset Food Pantry works to offer comfort and support to people from all over Somerset County, whether they are hungry or in need of household necessities. The food pantry can now purchase more food for families in need thanks to a local farmer.
"This donation is so considerate," Schmuck said. "We are so happy that Connie thought of us."
Farmers in 1,245 eligible counties have the chance to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organizations. The Monsanto Fund has invested more than $3.1 million in rural communities this year. More than $65,000 has been donated to nonprofits in Pennsylvania.
The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Co., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Co. employees live and work. The company sells seeds, plant biotechnology traits and crop protection chemicals.
Berlin farmer wins money for Somerset Food Pantry
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