Few people are more passionate about feeding the world than farmers and ranchers. So, when farm and ranch families gathered at the annual American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Salt Lake City in January 2024 to assemble food boxes to be donated to those facing food insecurity, it was no surprise that they showed up in full force. 

The original goal was to fill two semi-trucks. However, over the three-day conference, 4,500 volunteers packed 140,000 pounds of food – enough food to fill four semi-trucks. 

“Farmers dedicate their lives to feeding people. We know that food insecurity is a serious issue, and we're committed to doing our part to address it,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It was my honor to help pack boxes during our convention knowing that the food was going to be delivered to good people in need of our help.”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and his wife helping pack food boxes in Salt Lake City.

Amanda Nigg, known as FarmFitMomma on Instagram and a keynote speaker at the Convention, said it was an honor to be able to play a part in alleviating food insecurity. 

“It was great to get in there and physically help fill boxes, knowing we were easing the mental burden so many are facing when it comes to nutrition,” Nigg said. “It’s all about making an impact!” 

Partnering with the Utah Farm Bureau’s Miracle of Agriculture Foundation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated everything needed for the service project from the food and packing materials, to semi-trucks, drivers, and conveyor belts. 

Clayton Beckstead, executive director for Utah Farm Bureau’s Miracle of Agriculture Foundation, said that without the church's donation and support, the project wouldn’t have been possible. 

“We just thought it would be a cool way to kind of kickstart what they’re wanting to do out there,” Beckstead said. “Having farmers from around the country in our backyard, we thought it was a great opportunity to gather them all together with service to others.” 

From left to right: Kentucky Farm Bureau President Eddie Melton, Aubree Thomas (Utah Farm Bureau), Troy Rindlisbacher (Juab County Farm Bureau President), and Jason Whitis (Fayette County Farm Bureau President in Kentucky)

When fully assembled, each box weighs 21 pounds and contains 20 items such as cereal, tuna, beef stew, dry milk, peanut butter, jam, raisins, rolled oats, and hot chocolate – enough food to feed a family of four for up to four days. 

Iowa and Kentucky were chosen as donation recipients because of their states’ current needs and previous involvement with the Miracle of Agriculture Foundation. Both states had traveled to Utah in the past to participate in a “Miracle Project” and learn how they might implement a similar program in their states.


Food Arrives in Iowa

At the beginning of February, two semi-trucks loaded with more than 3,000 boxes were met with representatives from the Utah and Iowa Farm Bureaus, the Iowa Food Bank, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make the first delivery in Iowa. 

Iowa Food Bank CEO Michelle Book was impressed with and grateful for the donation.

“It's beautiful, nutritious food. These are things that I would buy at the grocery store to feed my family,” Book said. “I am looking at the peanut butter and the jelly. A five-year-old can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or a 95-year-old can make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

The Iowa Food Bank distributed the food boxes to six Feeding America food banks located in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Davenport. It is estimated that these boxes would feed 10,000 Iowans. 

Kentucky Bound

The third truck arrived in Fayette County, Kentucky in early March. Seventy volunteers from Kentucky and Utah Farm Bureaus, nonprofit agencies, and government leaders helped distribute the boxes to 42 nonprofits and 28 schools. 

Jason Whitis, president of the Fayette County Farm Bureau, explained that they had recently been in contact with a woman who works in the Fayette County school system and knew of some students in need. 

“We learned that we have about 1,000 homeless children right here in our county,” Whitis said. “So, we made sure that we made a connection with them and we know that some of these boxes are going to help these students and their families.” 

Kentucky Farm Bureau President Eddie Melton said it was a great project for Farm Bureau members to be involved with and rewarding to see it come full circle. 

“This is the culmination of the service project that took place in Salt Lake City. We got to come here today and hand this food out to the folks who are distributing the food to people in need,” Melton said. “That's what we are in agriculture. We grow food, but we want that food to get to the people that need it. I think all our hearts are all in that.” 

Kentucky Farm Bureau President Eddie Melton visits with volunteers at the food distribution event.

Troy Rindlisbacher, Juab County Farm Bureau president and farmer on the Nephi Crop Farm with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, followed the food as it made its way from farms to those in need. 

“If you look at the boxes you will see a variety of food that was grown on Church farms around the country. That food is processed and distributed by the Church and given to our friends who are helping people in need around the globe,” Rindlisbacher said. “It is a blessing for me to see what happens as this food goes from ‘seed to stomach’ and how people’s lives are blessed all along the way.”

Utah Farm Bureau’s Miracle of Agriculture Foundation plans to donate the fourth and final semi-load of food boxes to pantries across Utah. This project will take place in early spring. Stay up to date on the project by following the Miracle of Agriculture Foundation on Instagram (@MiracleOfAg) and Facebook (UFBF Miracle of Ag Foundation).