Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation Sustains Food Donations
4-H is a family tradition for the Hyde’s of New London County. Brothers Harlan and Brandon Hyde were both active as youth, and now their children are members. They represent the slogan that 4-H grows true leaders—Brandon ’01 (CAHNR) has served on the alumni board for CAHNR and Harlan is an active 4-H volunteer.
“I have a fix-it personality, and we can’t fix COVID,” Harlan says. “Bonnie Burr, the assistant director for Extension called me in April about Operation Community Impact and the yogurt and sour cream delivery, and we started finding homes for it with the local food pantries. This project really changed my outlook on COVID. We were doing something for people and making a small contribution.”
The Hyde’s started the Joyce Ann Hyde Food for Families Fund, a non-profit foundation, in honor of their late mother. The Foundation raises funds to support agriculture and community members in need.
“We’ve committed 100% of the funds from our non-profit to the purchase of food for the community,”
Brandon says. “There are three prongs to our non-profit. Our family has ties to agriculture and 4-H, and we want to be able to help feed families in need while directly supporting agriculture. It’s one of the goals in the mission of our non-profit. The third prong is using 4-H members to distribute the food, so they understand what it takes to give back.”
The Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation supported four milk deliveries and 10 produce deliveries to 27 food pantries in New London County to date. Over 30 families and 50 4-H youth members volunteer to move dairy and produce from central drop-off locations to the various food pantries. Brewster’s Orchards in Griswold donated apples and pears and the Foundation coordinated the logistics and distribution. Volunteers distributed the 7,500 pounds or produce throughout the fall of 2020. The Foundation purchased and distributed cheese in February. Sponsors donate refrigerated trucks and other logistics.
“We have an opportunity to impress on 4-Hers the givers heart,” Harlan says. “It’s also important to us that the whole thing started with farmers dumping milk, being limited to what they could ship to market—we want to increase demand. We buy fruit that might not be sold at market, and increase demand for those products, and we get the 4-H members involved in community service. We’re taking a holistic approach from farm to food pantry to table.”
“I’m really proud of the impact on the thousands of people we’re serving from all the food pantries,” Brandon says. “Just the three largest pantries in our network serve over 1,000 people.”
The Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation is growing the next generation of true leaders from the New London County 4-H program and positively impacting families and farm businesses throughout the county. The pandemic has upended the lives of thousands, and together we can help those in need and strengthen our communities.
Article by Stacey Stearns