GREAT FALLS – As family and friends gather for Thanksgiving, approximately one in eight Montanans will struggle with hunger and while farmers and ranchers produce food to feed the world, they also take time to help those in need.
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 for eight years. This year’s race was held at Fort Keogh in Miles City on October 6.
Circle rancher Gilman Gasper, chair of the MFBF YF&R Committee, said it’s extremely important to have the opportunity to give back.
“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,” he said. “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.”
According to Gasper, the $6,000 raised helps feed many people around the state. He added the Montana Food Bank Network partners with food banks in Montana to help move the products to regions with people in need.
The young farmers and ranchers have hosted the event for the past eight years. The funds raised in that timespan have fed thousands of Montanans.
According to the Montana Food Bank Network’s Bill Mathews, over $51,000 has been raised, which equates to 153,000 meals.
“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,” he said.
The Hoofin’ it for Hunger race also connects consumers with farmers and ranchers.
“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,” Gasper said.
He added one of the main reasons the race is now held in Miles City is so people can get out on the trail and run at Fort Keogh while also promoting the agriculture research done there.
“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,” Gasper said.
The Montana Food Bank Network based in Missoula needs food and monetary donations year-round. If you would like to contribute, please visit their website.
If you are interested in participating in the 2019 Hoofin’ it for Hunger race, visit the Montana Farm Bureau Federation’s website.
-Lane Nordlund reporting for MTN News