Austin Central Texas Food Bank recently received a donation of 11,000 pounds of Texas rice to serve those in need on behalf of the Western Rice Belt Production Conference committee in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation was purchased with funds raised for the 2021 Western Rice Belt Production Conference that were not needed after the event officials decided to virtually hold the event due to the pandemic. Money that would have been used to get a venue and provide meals to attendees, were used for donation instead.
“COVID-19 has certainly drawn more attention to food security and the vast infrastructure and workforce responsible for creating safe and reliable food supplies,” AgriLife Extension Agent Corrie Bowen said in a press release. “This was a great opportunity to bring rice to our friends in Austin.”
The donation was distributed to the food bank in time for Christmas.
Conference committee members are members of the Ag industry from Wharton, Colorado and Matagorda counties. Texas Rice Council President Tommy Turner lives in the Austin area, according to an article by the Texas Farm Bureau.
“We use the same resource, the Colorado River, for irrigation as we do in Austin,” said Wharton County’s committee member and rice producer Daniel Berglund Leader news Friday. “I think it was kind of a way to tie that together and give something back while we can.”
The donation helped to help those in need, said Berglund, and to educate people about the cultivation of nutritious resources in the region. Food insecurity has increased across the country during the ongoing pandemic.
Donations to charities in Wharton County were also made throughout the year, and the donations speak to the mindset of the committee as well as local producers in general, Berglund said.
“We want to help our neighbors when they need help,” he said. “We can all see the strain this puts on our economy and our entire system. We want to help both farmers and ranchers. It is in our nature to help others. “
It’s only been a few weeks since the donation was made, but organization members are considering another.
“We hear people talking about donating money for us to do it again,” said Berglund. “It is very likely that it will happen again shortly. I hope it does. “
Committee members for the 2021 conference are Berglund, Bowen, Heath Bush, Laramie Kittler, Bob Little, Ralph Novosad, Dwight Roberts, Tommy Sanchez, Darryl Socha, Vivian Spanihel, Aaron Sumral, Tommy Turner, and Bryan Wiese.
The 2021 Western Rice Belt Production Virtual Conference is hosted by the AgriLife Extension offices of Texas A&M and is free to attend. The conference features lectures by experts in the rice industry on topics such as breeding programs, pest control, land conservation and much more.
The conference starts on January 20th at 8 a.m. and ends around 2 p.m. A pre-registration is neccessary.