The American Farm Bureau Federation this week is celebrating "Food Check-Out Week" – an outreach campaign aimed at developing discussions with consumers about how to cut costs while putting nutritious meals on the table.
The American Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee kicked off the week by donating food and funds to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Phoenix.
"Farmers and ranchers remain committed to producing safe, healthy food for all Americans," said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the AFB Women's Leadership Committee. "And we do share with many American families concerns about putting nutritious meals on the table on a tight budget."
Over the past few years, rising energy costs for processing, packaging and transportation have been the driving forces behind modest increases in retail food prices, Gilbert noted.
"Plenty of options are available so that consumers do not have to turn to less-nutritious foods that lack essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, to make ends meet," said Gilbert.
"Tips for better nutrition on a stretched budget, making sense of food labels and understanding USDA's MyPlate guidelines are among the topics Farm Bureau members will be talking about with consumers, at supermarket demonstration stations, farmers' markets and other venues," according to Gilbert.
"Stretching Your Grocery Dollar With Healthy, Nutritious Food," the official theme of Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week, reflects the fact that many Americans continue to look for ways to deal with an economic squeeze. Shopping for food to prepare more meals at home and dining out less frequently are two strategies people are using to cope with the situation.
"Now more than ever before, farmers and ranchers are committed to participating in conversations with consumers, to answer their questions about food," Gilbert said. "This holds true during special observances such as Food Check-Out Week, as well as when farmers go about their day-to-day routines and engage in social media."
Since the program was initiated in the mid-1990s, Farm Bureau members have donated more than $3 million in food and monetary contributions to Ronald McDonald Houses and other charities during Food Check-Out Week. Participating county and state Farm Bureaus will hold similar events throughout Food Check-Out Week.
The third week of February was selected for Food Check-Out Week as a way to celebrate American food and as a bridge to National Nutrition Month in March.