TIPTON, Ind. — With Thanksgiving just around the corner, efforts to stock up shelves at food banks are in full swing. Farmers can help by participating in the Hoppers for the Hungry program.

Grain elevators that take part in the program take proceeds from donated bushels and send a check to a nearby food bank. Members of Tipton County Young Farmers are encouraging area farmers to donate bushels during harvest this year.

“We ask farmers to donate bushels, half a load or 10 bushels, whatever they can,” said Matt Cline, vice president of Tipton County Young Farmers. “You just pull up to the elevator and say you want to donate 10 bushels to Hoppers for the Hungry.

“We currently have three elevators in the program. At the end of the year, the elevator will cut a check for what was donated.”

Last year, the inaugural year for Tipton County Young Farmers to participate in the program, more than $2,900 was raised for Encore Food Pantry.

This season, Tipton Young Farmers received a grant from the Tipton County Foundation, which will match each dollar raised up to $5,000.

The idea for the program began last year when Young Farmer leaders brainstormed opportunities for the group.

“We were looking for a community project,” Cline said. “Young Farmers is kind of a dying group in the county. We started recruiting people to revive it again. In the past we had done little things. We wanted to do something above and beyond that.

“We thought, ‘What’s better than farmers feeding people?’ We heard of the Hoppers for the Hunger program through Young Farmers. We decided to take that idea and mold it into our own facet.”

With lower grain prices this season, the scene has changed and it’s harder for farmers to donate as much, he said. However, with more elevators participating, grants and donations from seed companies, the program is doing better than ever.

“One dollar provides four meals,” Cline explained. “So a dollar will feed a family of four. Last year, we fed 12,000 meals out of our donation. We want to raise more money each year.”

Both Young Farmers and Hoppers for the Hungry are programs produced by Indiana Farm Bureau.

“We’re here trying to promote agriculture throughout our community. We want to give back, support ag education and help the community through the way we know how, farming,” Cline said. “We couldn’t do anything without gracious donations from farmers in our area.”

Farmers who would like to donate bushels to raise money for food pantries can donate at Cargill, Co-Alliance and Hartley Feed and Grain elevators.