Lawler lives in central Indiana, which, he says, has more than 150,000 food-insecure people, despite being right in the heart of America’s breadbasket. “If you were to drive to [my son’s] school from here,” he said from his farm in a video from USA Today, “you would do nothing but pass farms. And there’s a kid that’s hungry there. That made no sense to me.”
This irony is well-known: “Rates of food insecurity among rural households are generally higher than urban households,” writes Feeding America, a leading nonprofit focused on solving domestic hunger issues, on its site. Due in part to lower-paying jobs, higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of education, and simple distance between rural Americans, an estimated 3.3 million households in rural America are classified as food-insecure.
Lawler decided to take matters into his own hands: His farm, an operation that successfully grows produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini as well as raises beef and pork, ceased to be a for-profit operation. Instead he turned it into Brandywine Creek Farms, applied for non-profit status, and dedicated his farm to supplying healthy, local food to the food-insecure in central Indiana. The goal: 500,000 pounds of donated food this year.
Lawler’s gotten some significant support, as well. Richard Petty Motorsports, run by the famous NASCAR driver, will host a bowling event to benefit Brandywine Creek Farms. And thanks to the internet and social media, the options for getting volunteer effort and donations are easier than ever; there’s a GoFundMe page, you can buy a fun t-shirt, or sign up to volunteer on May 7 for this year’s planting.