Cynthia Hubert, President and CEO of Gleaners Foodbank in Indianapolis speaks at the Southwestern High School Community Calf Project dedication ceremony on Wednesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Cynthia Hubert, President and CEO of Gleaners Foodbank in Indianapolis speaks at the Southwestern High School Community Calf Project dedication ceremony on Wednesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Southwestern High School welcomed representatives from the national FFA, Gleaners Food Bank and the governor's office for the ribbon cutting of the Community Calf Project Wednesday afternoon.

The program will provide ground beef for community members struggling to put food on the table. Through the new Community Calf Project, students will raise and care for calves until the animals reach maturity and can be taken to a processor. Once the animals are slaughtered, the meat will be given to Gleaners Food Bank at Southwestern.

Stefonie Sebastian, grant administrator for the national branch of the FFA Living to Serve Program, said the FFA is hoping the calf project - the first project of its kind - will be replicated in other communities.

"This is the second year of the grant program, but it is the first time we've seen a grant like this," Sebastian said. "To see the success of this program would be to see how other FFA chapters across the country could get involved in something like this."

Greg Schneider, agriculture teacher at Southwestern and creator of the project, said he first started the project five months ago and didn't know where it was going to end up.

Later, he said he'd write a booklet with instructions for anyone else who would like to start up a Community Calf Project.

"We're excited," Schneider said as the program concluded. "Whether your take on agriculture is mass production global market, or you choose to buy your food locally, this is about feeding our neighbors. This is what it's about."

Cynthia Hubert, president and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank, also spoke at the ribbon cutting. Hubert praised the idea, and how it has taken shape because of the number of hungry and food-insecure people in the county.

"There are thousands of food-insecure people, as Greg (Schneider) said, here in Jefferson County. More than any one of us would like to admit. And one-fourth of those are children, which, as we all know, is just the future of our world and our city and our county. So we cannot not support the children and the folks that are in hunger."

The other speakers at the event included Southwestern Schools Superintendent Steve Telfer; Gov. Pence's Director of Faith-based Initiatives Jeff Cardwell; John Nagle, the livestock program manager for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Mark Zurcher from Farm Credit Mid-America also spoke at the ribbon cutting.