Oakfield-Alabama FFA receives grant to help raise farm animals to support food pantry
The Retired Educators of New York Teacher Grant Committee awards the Hudson-Kramer Memorial Grant annually to an educational professional in memory of Ross C. Hudson and Florence Coulter Kramer who were public school teachers and outstanding members of the New York State Retired Teachers Association. The purpose of the grant is to fund an innovative project or program in a New York State public school. Oakfield-Alabama's FFA program that is run by Todd Hofheins was selected to receive the grant this year to support his vision for raising market animals to support the local food pantry. The student who will be overseeing the project purchased with the grant money is Owen Zeliff (8th Grade). Owen comes from the family who have started the food pantry that has been so beneficial to our community, and we are sure he’s again excited to give back! Mr. Hofheins is a very busy teacher, but he agreed to sit for a Q and A session with our student reporter, Lily Haacke, to talk about the grant.
(Lily Haacke ) : What is the project that you will use the grant funds for?
Mr. Hofheins: The OA FFA students currently raise market animals in our school barn but have expressed an interest in helping our local food pantry while also educating the community by explaining the health benefits of using fresh beef. Funds from the grant will be used to purchase a market steer (bought as a calf and raised by our FFA) to provide the Oakfield Community Center/Food Pantry with fresh beef.
(Lily Haacke ): That sounds like a great project, How did the idea come about?
Mr. Hofheins: Oakfield-Alabama FFA Strives to develop student members that are well rounded in Agricultural knowledge and involved with different Community Service opportunities. Several FFA members were involved with a community garden last Summer 2020 and noticed a high demand from local families for fresh foods to offer for a complete and healthy meal. This sparked an interest to raise a market steer and donate the fresh beef to the Food Pantry.
(Lily Haacke): Do you see this as an area of need in Oakfield-Alabama?
Mr. Hofheins: Yes. Many families do not have access to fresh meat due to transportation issues. Others have lower or fixed incomes and fresh beef has become too costly to purchase from the supermarket. Instead, people rely on more affordable but less healthy processed foods which deteriorates their health.
(Lily Haacke ): Is it possible that demand outweighs supply? What will you do if there isn’t enough beef to meet the demand?
Mr. Hofheins: The Oakfield-Alabama-Elba FFA Alumni has offered to help with expenses if needed. Also, the Oakfield-Alabama FFA is also applying for a “Living to Serve” grant to offset the other money needed to raise and finish this project.
(Lily Haacke): Mr. Peterson (Middle School and High School Principal) has bragged about OA students having “authentic experiences” as part of their education here, is this an example of that?
Mr. Hofheins: Absolutely! This project helps support FFA students as part of their supervised agricultural experience by teaching calf selection, animal husbandry, nutrition, showmanship, marketing, and community service.
*This article was written by Lily Haacke as part of a class called OA Pride. The class (taught by Mrs. Tracy Schlagenhauf) includes project-based learning where students take the lead in researching and showcasing positive achievements within the Oakfield-Alabama school and community. The photos were taken by Alexis Main, a student in Mr. David Carpino’s digital photography class.