When we ask ourselves what we can do to make the world a better place, one answer may be right in our own backyards. Our local non-profits help us feed our neighbors, provide valuable human services and can help us educate agriculture’s next generation. And through the Land O’Lakes Foundation, we are helping our members multiply efforts to feed our future.
“The Land O’Lakes Foundation’s mission is to serve the many communities where our members and employees live and work,” says Lydia Botham, Land O’Lakes Foundation Executive Director and Vice President of Community Relations. “Through programs like our member matches, we partner with our members to fight hunger, support education and strengthen communities.”
Two types of community investments
“We have two types of member match programs,” says Lydia. “The Direct Member Match works with individual farmers and the Member Co-op Match works with our member co-ops. Both of these are important investments in our communities.”
These programs match members’ dollar-for-dollar cash donations to local nonprofit organizations. While the Member Co-op Match Program has been in existence for more than 15 years, the Direct Member Match Program just launched in 2016.
Member co-ops qualify for matching funds for hunger initiatives and community efforts. Direct Members are eligible for matches up to $500 for community efforts such as food shelves, homeless shelters, FFA programs and educational institutions.
Member Co-op Match
For more than 15 years, Land O’Lakes has offered the Member Co-op Match program. Co-ops such as Ceres Solutions have been enthusiastic program participants.
“These partnerships are one of the ways we invest in the future of agriculture and the future of rural communities,” says Laurel Mann, Ceres Solutions’ Resource Development Manager. “We appreciate the programs and take full advantage. Land O’Lakes increases our ability to invest in local communities.”
Ceres Solutions does business in 13 western Indiana counties and supports organizations such as 4-H, FFA. “Land O’Lakes is a great partner. They match our donations dollar for dollar to organizations such as these,” Laurel says.
Causes supported are divided into two categories: by hunger and non-hunger initiatives. On the non-hunger side, Ceres Solutions focuses donations on rural youth. That means regular financial support and a presence at local 4-H fairs, as well as support of the Indiana 4-H Youth Foundation, which develops statewide programming. One popular program is 4-H Round Up at Purdue University, where kids who have completed grades 7, 8 and 9 have an opportunity to explore a variety of careers by attending classes created for them to spark greater interest in food science and ag related careers.
“When we’re able to partner with 4-H, both locally and through the Foundation, they’re unbelievably appreciative of the funds, and they are amazing stewards. We feel like it’s such a great investment to benefit kids from all over our trade area,” Laurel says.
On the hunger side, Ceres Solutions actively supports FFA initiatives such as the annual National FFA Day of Service, at which students package as many as 30,000 meals for distribution to those in need. Ceres Solutions also partners with local food pantries and larger regional food banks to help alleviate hunger.
“As a company, our mission statement is very simple. It is three words: serve, grow, invest,” Laurel says. “We strive to serve with integrity, grow local member profitability and invest in the future of agriculture. Land O’Lakes helps make members like us be successful. The Member Match Program helps us double the impact we can have in our communities. We so appreciate being part of the fabric of our local communities in this way.”
Direct Member Match
Judy Gifford, one of our dairy member-owners at St. Brigid’s Farm in Maryland, runs a grass-based 50-cow jersey dairy farm and serves on neighboring Colchester Farm’s board of directors. As soon as Judy became aware of the opportunity to apply for the Member Match program in 2016, she applied. She committed a $500 donation to Colchester Farms and applied to Land O’Lakes to match that amount.
“Colchester Farms CSA provides a wide range of cooking classes and recipes on our website,” Judy says. “Participating in the Member Match Program is a good way to support community programs. The member makes the commitment to donate and Land O’Lakes supports us by matching it.”
Judy says Land O’Lakes makes the process of applying for Member Match easy. “It’s a very simple form,” she says. “It’s one page. You just have to provide information about the organization, why it supports the community and that it’s a 501c3.”
Make a difference today
The application process for both the Member Co-op Match and the Direct Member Match is as simple as filling out a short form that’s available in the Community Involvement section on the home page of our new member website.