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Hot commodity: Local farmers donate grain to make a big impact on pantries

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STERLING – Grain donations from area farmers are being converted into supplies for local food pantries to help others during this difficult time.

At bins and elevators throughout Northern Illinois, Rock River Lumber and Grain, F/S Grain, and Gold Star F/S are taking grain donations, and in return donating the cost to local food pantries.

Geneva-based Northern Illinois Food Bank, one of the largest that serves the area, converts every donated dollar into $8 worth of groceries, said Nic Jakobs, of Jakobs Brothers Farms near Coleta.

A bushel is around $3.50, which turns into about $30 worth of groceries; one bushel of corn is about 56 pounds.

“This is not an easy time for farmers, either,” Jakobs said. “If they can donate one bushel, five bushels, 25 bushels or more, every little bit makes a massive difference in a time that a lot of people are in need.”

The grain companies will donate the proceeds of the donated loads to food banks of the farmers’ choice.

Rock River Lumber and Grain Manager Carey Bauer enjoys the benefits the donations have on the community.

“The farmers are the first line in food production,” he said. “This is going to allow the grain, their production, to turn into food as quickly as possible for these food banks. It’s a great concept, and it’s going to happen so quickly. They’ll bring in the grain today, and tomorrow the food banks will be getting checks.”

Jakobs is trying to corral as many farmers as possible around his farm to donate to the cause, and many in Whiteside and Carroll counties are doing that, he said. Some are donating meat, pork and potatoes as well.

He hopes other grain companies can replicate what’s going on at the local bins and elevators.

“We as farmers recognize that food banks are facing an unprecedented time,” Jakobs said. “The grain donations aren’t a new concept, but it’s one of our best mechanisms to quickly convert grain into food for families, our communities and our neighbors.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has been unbelievable in joining this cause and realizing that we’re all in this together.”

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