Local Businesses Do Battle and Food Pantries Benefit

Ag Week 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the Breakfast Battle sponsored by Franklin County Farm Bureau and local businesses, including Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.

“This is such a fun and meaningful event that we’ve repeated for 10 years now,” says Mike Borcherding, president, Franklin County Farm Bureau. “We schedule it during National Ag Week to promote agriculture in Iowa and to bring awareness to food insecurity in our area.  Plus, it’s a great way to give back to Franklin County communities!”

Each year National Ag Week recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by agriculture to our daily lives including food, fiber, and fuel. “Food brings everyone to the table” was the 2021 Ag Day theme, so farmers and business owners in Franklin County helped put food on the table.

“It’s important to remind people that while food is abundant across Iowa, there are food insecure even in Franklin County,” adds Borchering. “We want to maintain a partnership with our local food pantries that are doing a great job helping to meet those needs.”

During the annual Breakfast Battle, teams from local businesses race around the Fareway store in Hampton. They collect groceries for a family of four for one day’s worth of meals. Recipes from Iowa State University Extension’s “Healthy and Homemade” cookbook are provided to the racers for breakfast, dinner, and supper. Racers must gather those ingredients to make a complete meal plus additional items to hit a certain grocery total. Teams that spend more than the designated grocery title are penalized by having time added. The winner receives a traveling trophy for the year.

Breakfast Battle

Thanks to Franklin County Farm Bureau and Lacey Peter for racing on behalf of Team Latham. Although we didn’t take home the trophy, local food pantries were the winners.

“This year’s Breakfast Battle looked a little different to accommodate the continuation of the COVID pandemic,” said Anna Dunnwald, Outreach Coordinator for Franklin County Farm Bureau. “Each business had only one racer rather than a team of three, but we still met our goal. Each year our goal is to gather enough groceries to provide three meals a day for 10 local families. We also encourage participating businesses to match a donation to the pantries for $50, which hopefully doubles the impact!”

Each year the families who receive the groceries also receive a cookbook, donated by Franklin County Extension, that contains the recipes used in the race. New this year, Central Park Dentistry of Sheffield provided dental hygiene kits for the families.

Franklin County Food Pantry in Hampton and the West Fork Food Pantry in Sheffield received food from the 2021 Breakfast Battle. In celebration of National Ag Day on March 23, 2021, Team Latham members helped Pastor G. Kim and Diane Wills pack Easter baskets for those who are served by the West Food Pantry. Our afternoon of service was inspired by the challenge issued by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig for those involved with Iowa agriculture to give back.

Food Pantry volunteers

Special thanks to the Team Latham members who volunteered time on Ag Day to help pack food sacks at the West Fork Food Pantry in Sheffield, Iowa. The number of families served by the food pantry has doubled since the pandemic began. Pictured from front to back and from left to right are: Ryan Schon, Brandi Hoesing, John Latham, Rod Fesenmeyer, Jesse Meints (youth and family director for Zion St. John), Pastor G. Kim, Meg Schon, Diane Wills (site coordinator for West Fork Food Pantry), and Chris Latham.

West Fork Food Pantry

It was about five years ago when Pastor Wills and his wife, Diane, heard a report on KLMJ radio about local food insecurity. It prompted them to contact the Food Bank of Iowa (FBOI) and learn about the need in Franklin County. In 2016, the Wills helped start a mobile pantry that was held at Zion St. John Lutheran Church in Sheffield, Iowa.

“The Food Bank of Iowa uses the mobile pantries to determine if there is a need. As a mobile pantry, we received a shipment of food every month. The food went out the door the same day. There was no cost to us, and we didn’t need to provide storage,” says Diane Wills, site coordinator for West Fork Food Pantry. “Once the need was established in our community, the Food Bank of Iowa encouraged us to become a permanent pantry in 2018.”

As a permanent site and partner agency with the FBOI, the West Fork Food Pantry purchases most of its food from the FBOI. It also must provide storage. The local pantry is open the first Thursday of every month from 10 A.M. to noon. It is open the third Thursday of each month from 3:30 to 5:30 P.M.

“Before the pandemic, we served about 40 to 50 families, or approximately 140 to 150 people, each month. Now we average 60 to 80 families, or around 250 people per month,” says Wills. “All of our funding is provided through grants and community donations. We accept monetary and in-kind donations.”

Pantry blog

Those interested in contributing to the West Fork Food Pantry may email Diane Wills at wfpantry@zionstjohn.org or call the church 641-892-4010.  The original partnering churches include Zion St. John Lutheran, West Fork Methodist, First Methodist of Sheffield, St. Paul Lutheran of Thornton and St. Peter Lutheran in Rockwell. Regular donations come from First Grace Baptist in Sheffield, United Methodist of Thornton, Sacred Heart Catholic in Rockwell, and Zion Reformed of Sheffield.

In celebration of National Ag Day, today we’re sharing a recipe from Iowa State University Extension for Loaded Potato Soup.

Loaded Potato Soup

Recipe by https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/loaded-potato-soup/

6- 1 cup servings


  • 4 baked potatoes or 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon tub margarine
  • medium onion (coarsely chopped) (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth, or 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 slices (3 ounces) American cheese
  • Optional garnishes: Sliced green onion, bacon bits, shredded cheese


  1. Remove skins and mash potatoes into small pieces to make about 3 cups. Set aside.
  2. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and green pepper, if desired. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in the broth and heat to a boil. Stir in milk, potatoes, peas, and pepper. Heat through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cheese slices. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until cheese melts. Add more milk if soup is thicker than you prefer.
  5. Add garnishes, if desired, and serve immediately.


Using already cooked potatoes means you can have this soup ready to eat and on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Other frozen vegetables can be used instead of peas. Try corn, broccoli or mixed vegetables.