Korean Broadcasting System sends reporter to Yolo Food Bank

NADIA DORIS / AGGIE
NADIA DORIS / AGGIE

South Korean reporter travels halfway across the world, documents rice donations

Felix Kwon, a reporter from South Korea who works for the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), ventured 18 hours this past September to visit the small city of Woodland — all for rice. Felix had traveled halfway across the world with a film crew to visit the Yolo Food Bank (YFB) established there.

Recently, the South Korean government put into effect a rice donation program for their local food banks. As a result, Kwon came to learn more about small local food banks and decided to interview those involved, namely those associated with rice production, a staple in a typical Asian diet. KBS, the largest public television network in South Korea, allowed Kwon to choose his destination for the documentary.

The team began their research and came upon YFB, which distributes across 11 counties and has donated 355,294 pounds of rice, totalling over 4 million individual servings for those in need. Conaway Ranch, a large corporation of rice-growers located in Woodland, largely contributes to this effort as YFB’s greatest benefactor.

This system intrigued Kwon, since South Korea’s public programs for food-insecure residents differ widely from those in Yolo County. Kwon paid particular attention to the relationship between the YFB and the ranch.

“Rice is a staple of the Korean diet and if we can create this kind of partnership between rice farmers and food banks in South Korea, it could help a lot of hungry people,” Kwon said in “Yolo Food Bank attracts international attention.

The idea that farmers were willing to donate their own profits to help those in need perplexed Kwon. However, YFB marketing and communications coordinator Kevin Brown and Conaway Ranch environmental consultant Maya Kepner agreed that the farmers belong to a community where people care about each other and want the best for their neighborhoods.

“We live in this agricultural region that produces some of the world’s finest produce. Our proximity to it allows us to form partnerships with local farmers who want to do good and help their neighbors in need,” Brown said. “A lot of growers participate in our Shared Harvest program where they pledge a small percentage of each harvest to the Food Bank, we then turn around and redistribute it throughout the community. It’s a beautiful thing that fulfills a real need right here at home.”

The Conaway Ranch Shared Harvest program has helped donate rice and produce to programs for food-insecure individuals and families for the last three years, donating about 163,000 pounds of rice to various food banks across California.

“What started out as just Yolo County now reaches about 18 counties in California,” Kepner said. “It’s a story of people coming together — the farmers, the ownership group and the local food banks to provide food for people who really need it.”
Written By: Bianca Antunez – city@theaggie.org