Student Spotlight – Marissa LaRosae
Food insecurity is a growing issue as the world population steadily increases. The agricultural industry as a whole is using innovative techniques to improve the efficiency and quality of the products that we are producing. This is in the hope that we will be able to sufficiently feed a population of 9 billion by 2050. As a young professional in the swine industry, I am eager to play a small role in meaningful improvements to make safe, affordable, and abundant pork a reality for the years to come. The year 2050 has been emphasized greatly, so much that we need to step back from the “bigger picture” and dive headfirst into issues happening here and now in our communities.
Looking back on my childhood, I now realize how fortunate I was to never have to worry about when my next meal was going to be or where it was coming from. In today’s world, children are burdened by the stress of food insecurity when, in reality, that should be the least of their worries. I grew up in Tippecanoe County, Indiana where the food insecurity rate is 13.1%; that is approximately 24,800 people that lack access to enough food to adequately support all household members. One of the primary issues for the food insecure in Tippecanoe County is the limited access to nutritionally adequate foods. Tippecanoe County has resources such as food banks, backpack programs at local schools, soup kitchens, etc. These are all ways to reduce food insecurity; however, there is still a need for more support in order to supply fresh produce and animal protein to ensure nutritional needs are met.
Before I packed up my belongings and moved halfway across the country to South Dakota, I was able to participate in one last activity with the Tippecanoe County Farm Bureau Young Farmers. One of the major focuses of the organization is community outreach and ways we can directly give back to our community. We were able to partner with Prairie Farms and give away 250 gallons of milk to local community members in a high poverty area. I was in complete awe of how thankful people were for something as simple as a gallon of milk. This was the turning point for me.
There is no single way to solve food insecurity in my community; however, a few hours of handing out gallons of milk was a small step in the right direction. I have made it my mission to help chip away at the issue that is food insecurity in Tippecanoe County. I plan to do this by staying active in the Tippecanoe County Young Farmers, even from 800 miles away. In the future, I would like to diversify the products that we are able to give away such as ham, bacon, eggs, cheese, and fresh produce. My goal is to be able to form relationships with local producers and businesses to sponsor or donate to the giveaways. I hope that through these actions, and with support from other community members, that we can work together to reduce food insecurity in our backyard.