Clinton County Farm Bureau fights rural hunger

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Clinton County farmers know how to grow quality crops. Now, they're also pitching in to fight hunger.

A rolling combine represents 2013 battles at the Dierickx farm.

"It's been a year of extremes," said longtime farmer Joe Dierickx.

They were harvesting in late October after contending with drought, flooding and snow during the growing season.

But it's nothing like the daily battle against hunger at the Referral Center in nearby DeWitt.

"There's just so many people that struggle," said Liz Bloom, who operates the food pantry.

Demand is high. Donations are down. Keeping shelves stocked is a constant challenge.

"We have been running low in our pantry," she continued. "We rely on these donations to go out and get food."

That's sparking a donation on Tuesday from the Clinton County Farm Bureau. It will help them to feed dozens of families.

"We would like to encourage people to give because there is need in rural America," Dierickx said.

Since it's hard to keep the pantry full, this donation will be even more important. Here in DeWitt, it will be a big boost.

Liz Bloom reaches out from her office. She knows that hunger can be a silent but drastic program.

"We're really glad that we're here to help some of these families," she continued. "I don't know what some of them would do if we weren't."

The Referral Center at 615 8th Street in DeWitt operates a thrift shop to help raise money for hunger and utility outreach.

Recipients, like Wayne Horstmann, understand the importance of the programs.

"If you don't have anything at all to eat, are plum out of groceries, it really comes in pretty handy," he said.

From the pantry to the harvest, Clinton County farmers like Peter Whitman are reaching out to the community.

"Being farmers, we like to show that we can help, too," he said.

In DeWitt, it's just the right thing to do.

The Referral Center is open from 8-5 Monday through Friday. To make food or cash donations, call (563) 659-9612.