AKRON, Ohio — On a 400-acre Carroll County farm in the village of Amsterdam, farmers grow corn, soybeans, wheat, rye and oats.
"We are a full farm-to-plate operation," said Fred Kungl.
Kungl also raises cattle through J & G Cattle Company, which started about five years ago.
Typically, there are about 30 to 50 head of cattle on any given day on the site. The farmers keep them fed before the animals are eventually hauled away.
"We use a local processing facility over in Dalton. It's USDA inspected. Then, we bring that back to our freezers at home and sell that directly on a website straight to consumers," Kungl said.
Kungl has seen a boom in his business during the pandemic in part because supply chain issues have made it difficult for people to buy beef where they normally get it. As a result, they've been turning to local farmers.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has really brought that relationship direct to the consumer for us and that's been nice. It's been refreshing," Kungl said.
Since J & G has doubled its direct sales, the company decided to give back. Kungl recently donated 300 pounds of beef— worth between $1,250 and $1,500— to the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank.
"As farmers, we want to feed people. It's why we work as hard as we do," Kungl said.
Dan Flowers, the CEO of the ACRFB, said the help from farmers comes at a critical time.
"Our foodbank, and food banks that I know of are not in a crisis, but we certainly feel like our backs are against the wall," Flowers said.
Flowers said its food distribution was down about 7 million pounds in 2021 compared to 2020, in part because the foodbank received 2 million pounds less from national food manufacturers.
Supply chain troubles and a struggle to find volunteers at the non-profit have only exacerbated the problem.
"We're going out now and trying to buy food that's costing us more than it did before the pandemic," Flowers said. "The charities that distribute the food are under a lot of pressure. There's less food available to us."
The donation from J & G fed more than 200 people. Flowers pointed out that it's crucial to find other new donors.
"I don't think it's just farmers — anyone— manufacturers, retailers, distributors, we need your support," Flowers said. "We still find that there's a lot of farmers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that still don't know us."
That message has been received by Kungl, who plans to donate to the foodbank again in the future while urging other farmers to do the same.
"It's definitely something that we need to do as an industry is continue to build that relationship with the public and give back when we can," he said.