Cows have been milked on my family's dairy farm every day for over 55 years. That's over 20,000 consecutive days. We've been milking cows not just every day of my life, but of my father's as well. Over half a century worth of Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, Independence Days...we've milked cows. And thanks to a generator, we've milked through power outages caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms. In other words, we've been a reliable food provider for a long, long time. What my grandfather started with just a few cows has grown into what Gilmer Dairy Farm is today: a modern, family owned and operated food production company. Our seven day a week mission isn't as simple as "making milk", though. We strive to produce a high-quality, nutrient rich food products (milk and beef) that our friends and neighbors will want to include as part of their healthy diets.
There used to be dozens of small dairy farms dotted across Lamar County, but we're the only one still in operation. Our cows currently produce enough for all of our county's 14,000+ residents to enjoy a daily glass of milk, or enough to meet the "3-Every-Day" recommended servings for just over one-third of our local population. There is more than enough milk produced on other farms throughout our state and nation to serve the other 2/3s of Lamar Countians. In fact, our nation's farmers produce enough nutritious food to feed all Americans, and modern transportation and distribution systems "fill in the gaps" where the local demand exceeds the local supply.
We have an abundant, affordable food supply, yet hunger is a persistent problem. And it's a problem here in Lamar County. With unemployment over 10% and 18% of our residents living below the poverty level, many of our local families are forced to decide between paying rent or putting nutritionally balanced meals on their table. While the situation is bleak, it is far from hopeless. Why? Because we can help.
Today is World Food Day, and I want to challenge all Lamar Countians to do something to help combat our local hunger problem. Designate a few extra dollars in the offering plate this morning for your church's alter fund or food pantry. Donate canned goods to a church or other local food pantry, or volunteer your time to help distribute food to the needy. The West Alabama Food Bank's website lists a few other ways you can help, so I encourage you to check it out.
Together, we CAN make a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors!