By Sheridan Wimmer on June 28, 2022
Many of us get to claim we were raised in a small town. While “small town” is a subjective term, we know how we felt in our childhood when we were safe to ride our bikes without the constant attention of our parents, of the feeling of catching lightning bugs, of the joy of backyard tent camping and Fourth of July parades.
For April Todd, the director of Pony Express Partnership for Children (PEPC) in Marysville, going home to her small town — population 3,000 — meant doing something for the children of her Marshall County community.
“I was born and raised in Marshall County, and I always knew helping people was what I wanted to do,” Todd says. “I majored in family studies at Kansas State University and decided there wasn’t anyplace I wanted to help more than the place in which I was raised.”
Todd moved back home after college and started PEPC, a nonprofit housed in an old school that provides resources to families in need.
“We focus on everything from early childhood development to food assistance to emergency assistance,” Todd says. “We partner with a lot of similar organizations with similar goals to help families. PEPC is the glue that keeps everyone in partnership without duplication of services.”
END HUNGER FUND PROVIDES GRANT
Marshall County Farm Bureau saw an opportunity to partner with PEPC and invited Todd to a board meeting to discuss a hunger initiative started by Kansas Farm Bureau called the End Hunger fund.
The fund’s goal is to mitigate and minimize the impacts and prevalence of hunger in Kansas. Brought on by COVID-19, the End Hunger campaign has morphed into a grant funding opportunity that allows county Farm Bureaus to request funding for local hunger initiatives.
“The End Hunger grant got the board talking about ways we could help hunger issues in our community,” Travis Mason, board president of Marshall County Farm Bureau, says. “We had PEPC join us at our board meeting to help us decide how to utilize the grant dollars from the End Hunger fund and it was eye-opening for the board to see the impacts hunger can have on children. After we heard what the needs were of our community, we decided to donate beef PEPC could distribute to families. We worked with the local processing plant in Waterville which gave us a discount on the processing of the animal. Our Farm Bureau Financial Services agent at the time donated the deep freeze to hold the hamburger.”
A true collaboration with entities in the community, Farm Bureau bought its first beef animal from the sale barn, which offered free room and board until the animal could be processed into hamburger.
“I got them going by providing the first processing fee as a donation,” Alex Parker, owner of Circle P Processing in Waterville, says. “People helped me when I was starting my business, so I am helping out with the first one, then offering 10 percent off for future animals they want processed for this program.”
PUTTING FOOD ON PLATES OF FAMILIES
Todd and PEPC has been a saving grace for many area residents and the End Hunger freezer beef donation has provided approximately 40 families protein.
“As an example of the impact we’re having, there was a single dad with four children who was doing it all on his own,” Todd says. “He was doing everything right by working hard and doing right by his children. He got injured at work and without support from a spouse or close family member, he reached out to us. He knew of someone who benefited from PEPC, and the partnership with the End Hunger beef project has been a blessing to him. In addition to receiving the food he needed to help feed his family, it was a great opportunity to share any additional resources he needed to help get him through.
“I love it when groups like Farm Bureau open their door of empathy and partner with us, and we hope it invites others to open their doors to the opportunity of helping families in such a difficult time,” Todd says.
Whether you’re in a small town, or a larger community, look to your county Farm Bureau to help open doors of empathy and opportunity.
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