UF/IFAS Extension steps up to feed hungry children, babies in southwest Florida
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Laurie Hurner could hear the children and babies crying in hunger in her sleep. The University of Florida IFAS Extension Highlands County director knew she had to feed children left hungry by Hurricane Irma, so she reached out to Stephanie Farmer, 4-H advocate and agriculture journalist, for help.
“Saturday was the first day that many families in southwest Florida got power back and the ability to communicate,” Hurner said. “So, we were hearing that children and babies had not eaten in days. Parents were begging us to help feed the babies.”
Hernando County Extension 4-H agent Nancy Moores knew Farmer was trying to launch a campaign to feed children in Collier and Highlands counties. Farmer had acted quickly and used social media to build a campaign among the state’s 4-H clubs for supplies to take south.
Moores joined the effort to get 4-H clubs involved, and within 12 hours, more than $1,500 worth of food and diapers had been purchased, collected and delivered to Farmer. The 4-H advocate delivered the supplies on Monday, allowing children to go to bed with full bellies that night.
Moores continued her efforts and collected another $2,000. “More donations were pledged and the effort continues with another $1,000 worth of needed food and baby items already filling the trailer,” Moores said. “With the guidance of UF/IFAS Extension agents like Laurie Hurner, Gene McAvoy and Jemy Hinton, a second trip to the hard hit areas with food and supplies is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23.”
Moores was not alone in this effort. Money was pledged from UF/IFAS Extension agents and retired agents from around the state.
“We saw a need and stepped up to make it happen,” Moores said. “This is what the UF family is about: Being there for our community.”
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.