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Wessler recognized as ‘Hunger Hero’

Dr. Alan Wessler, retired MFA Incorporated vice president of feed operations and animal health, was presented with the first-ever “Missouri Hunger Hero Award” at the recent Gover­nor’s Conference on Agriculture.

The award was given to Wessler by Feeding Missouri, a coa­lition of the state’s six regional food banks, in recognition of his “commitment and dedication to feeding Missouri children.”

“One of the things that we can all agree on is that no child in Missouri should have to worry about their next meal,” said Feeding Missouri State Director Scott Baker. “Unfortunately, food insecurity is a reality for hundreds of thousands of kids in our state. But there are some people who say ‘not on our watch.’ One such person is Dr. Alan Wessler. He’s a man with a big heart.”

Specifically, Baker spotlighted Wessler’s work with the “Drive to Feed Kids,” which he helped organize and execute five years ago as chairman of Missouri Farmers Care. The program lever­ages existing food bank and distribution networks to deliver kid-friendly meals to youth. Its most visible efforts take place every year at the Missouri State Fair, including FFA and 4-H meal-packing events and food donations by fairgoers.

“This concept came about with two purposes in mind,” Wessler said as he accepted the award. “One was to highlight awareness of food insecurity of children in our state. The other was to promote the good job that farmers and ranchers in this state are doing to supply us with wholesome, nutritious food.”

Since its inception in 2017, the Drive to Feed Kids has provid­ed more than 8.7 million meals for Missouri families, Baker said.

“But that number doesn’t tell the whole story,” he continued. “When you consider the domino effect that hunger can have on a child, the impact of a partnership like Drive to Feed Kids goes far beyond the bounds of the food distributed.”

Wessler, deflecting the personal accolades, gave credit to other partnering organizations in the program such as Missouri Farmers Care, Missouri State Fair, Bayer, Brownfield, Missouri 4-H and FFA organizations and their leaders.

“To all of those who have helped make Drive to Feed Kids the success that it has been,” he said, “in my mind, you are all Hunger Heroes.”

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