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College Aggies SNAP Blogs

When I picture hunger, real hunger, I imagine those commercials about helping the kids in Africa. It’s heart-wrenching how much people have to endure in other parts of the world. I feel so lucky to live in a country where we are above such turmoil and suffering. Except, I don’t. In most of the places I’ve been to in America, hunger is not as obvious as it appears in those commercials and, for that reason, it can be easily overlooked. According to the Food Research and Action Center, one in seven Americans struggled with hunger in 2013; more than 49 million Americans with 15.7 of those being children. Hunger is far too common and far too overlooked—even in our country.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP, is the modern day food stamp program that offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. Tyson Foods, Inc. challenged our College Aggies Online (CAO) Scholarship participants to live off the average value of a SNAP recipient’s benefit which came out to $4.50 per day with hopes that the students would gain a better understanding and empathy for hunger in America.

After reading the blogs the CAO students wrote about their experience, it is obvious the challenge was a success. Our students had a hard time eating as they normally do on such a small budget. With the quantity and quality of food available required our CAO participants to get creative. One student, Lauren Schlothauer, even found a way to make a market side sandwich from Wal-Mart last for several meals. The lessons learned were fairly consistent among all the students: $4.50 per day is not enough to fill your stomach and it is definitely not enough to provide you with healthy food choices. How we solve the problem of hunger is not clear, but it is crucial that we do our best to confront this problem head on, with empathy, compassion and understanding.

To learn more about the SNAP benefits challenge tackled by our CAO students, check out these blogs:

Living My Dream


Show Steers and City Life
Agriculture: Past, Present, and Future

Confessions of a Suburbanite Agvocate—confessions-of-a-suburbanite-agvocate/the-diary-of-a-white-hungry-girl-the-truth-about-snap

Down on the County Line

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Picky to Hungry

Rendezvous Ranch

The Athens Dairy Dawg



Every Day is Farmers Day

familyGrowing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore means that, as a local, your family are either farmers or watermen. My family fell into the former category. My Pop-Pop and my Dad always told my sisters and me that we were fifth generation dairy farmers on the Delmarva Peninsula, and the only reason they probably never claimed more was because the family bible didn’t list careers any farther back. Being a part of the agriculture industry is more than just a tradition in my family, it is embedded into our souls and DNA.. Not all farmers are like this though. Farming isn’t like royalty, not every farmer is born into the profession, which is great. Some just hear a calling for food production, like Dave Gevry. Haven’t heard of him? Well you should. This man is a disabled veteran who returned from combat deployment in 2011. Three years later, he is on Kickstarter ( looking for assistance supporting a farm he established to help other disabled veterans. “Caring for animals and growing food is a therapeutic way to address physical and emotional scars while providing food to the community we live in and families that reside in Little Falls, NY.” This man felt the rare calling to farming and expanded on it to create this amazing idea. Now, honestly, I haven’t been to his farm and I don’t know if he is following the same type of practices as we do at my farm, but as long as it is humane, clean, and honest, that okay. Different doesn’t mean wrong, it just means different. Organic or conventional, large or small we are all in this industry together.

At my house, every day is Farmer’s Day, but for the rest of the world, that holiday fell on Sunday, October 12, 2014. This year, I hope that you send a prayer towards all the farmers in the world working their butts off for something they are passionate about, or if praying isn’t your thing at least show some gratitude in whatever way you feel appropriate. Look into your heart and see if it is whispering to you that this industry is meant for you too. If so, I warn you it won’t be an easy path, but in life, there are very few easy paths no matter which you choose. The best bet is to choose one you are passionate about and at the end of the day the sweat, the sore muscles, and the hard work will be all worth it.


Farm to Pork Blogger Tour

Nothing defines ‘Merica quite like bacon. It’s everywhere you look in this great country, and I am a-okay with that! I’ll even admit that I bought a bacon scented candle a year or so ago and it was amazing until it made me too hungry too work and while writing this article, I found a store that sells so many bacon-themed items that I didn’t know I needed till now ( like bacon popcorn and bacon chocolate. It’s just so wrong, that it’s right.Blogger tour

Well earlier this month, the Alliance partnered with the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, and the North Carolina Pork Council, to take a group of twelve bloggers on a Farm to fork tour where they were able to better develop their relationship with bacon… and the rest of the pork industry. The tour, which took the participants to Prestage Farms, Smithfield’s processing facilities, and the meat science lab at North Carolina State University, was completely transparent.

The bloggers, none of whom had ever set foot on a farm before, were able to ask any question they wanted, and they did. From antibiotics to animal welfare, food safety to hormones, nothing was off limits, and the same can be said about the tour itself. Though they’d never been to a farm before, that didn’t stop the bloggers from arguing over who would be the lucky one to inseminate a sow, nor did it stop them from observing Smithfield’s C02 stunning process from the kill floor.

“It’s hard to open the barn doors without any idea what people will think,” says Emily in her blog (which you should check out next for more information on this tour, but letting these bloggers in turned out to be a great experience for them and for Prestage and Smithfield. People are curious about where their bacon (and other less important food) comes from and it is the producers and processors duty to let them see. Hopefully in the future, more blogger tours can be done in other parts of the country and with other commodity groups. Until those are planned though, light your bacon candle, relax, and check out the bloggers responses to the tour.

Read more about what the Bloggers had to say about their experiences, below:

Kelly Pugliano, Eat Picks, “Mexican Pork Roast”

Cristen Clark, Food & Swine, “Our Pig Barns”

Thien-Kim Lam, I’m Not the Nanny, “Farm to Pork to Our Family Table #FarmtoPork”

Ilina Ewen, Dirt and Noise, “This Little Piggy Went to the Market”

Kelly Pugliano, Eat Picks, “Farm to Pork and Everything In Between”

Gina Von Esmarch, Bowlicker, “Swine and Wine Italian Pork Stew”

Cristen Clark, Food and Swine, “Farm to Pork Blogger Tour”

Carmen Stacier, Mom to the Screaming Masses, “Pigs, the First Inventors of Bacon”

Kelly Pugliano, Eat Picks, “Wordless Wednesday”

Jamie Harrington, Kids Activity Blog, “Dr. Pepper Pork”

Amy Roskelly, Super Healthy Kids, “The Farm to Table Connection: Pig Farming”

 To see a complete picture of other social media interactions, please visit this Storify.