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The Cenex® Brand in Partnership with Farmers Cooperative Oil of Elbow Lake and Wendell Name the West Central Ag Boosters in Support of Growing Grant County Recipient of $25,000 Hometown Pride Grant

ELBOW LAKE, Minn., Oct. 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Cenex®, the energy brand of CHS, and Farmers Cooperative Oil of Elbow Lake and Wendell, have awarded the West Central Ag Boosters with a $25,000 Hometown Pride grant in support of Growing Grant County.

The West Central Ag Boosters in support of Growing Grant County was nominated by Farmers Cooperative Oil of Elbow Lake and Wendell for its contributions to the West Central Area Schools, Ashby Public Schools and surrounding communities for its dedication to advancing agricultural education, meat and vegetable production, and philanthropy. These efforts have bolstered the availability of local food to communities, while teaching life and career skills to high-school students.

“Growing Grant County’s unique efforts have had a profound impact on the students and residents of Grant County,” says Eric Sawatzke, agriculture education instructor at West Central Area Schools. “By growing, distributing and packaging quality foods through local food shelves, it fosters a strong sense of connection between those in need and the students involved. It also facilitates connections between students, community leaders, and potential employers, creating a tightly knit support network. The Hometown Pride grant will allow us to continue our mission and grow our capabilities.”

Growing Grant County began two years ago with the visionary leadership of Eric Sawatzke and the West Central Area FFA Chapter, who initiated fundraising efforts and established a state-of-the-art greenhouse. As the dream expanded, the program “Growing Grant County” was born, in partnership with the West Central Initiative, West Central Area Schools and Ashby Schools. The greenhouse currently cultivates various produce items, including lettuce, cucumbers, strawberries, and peppers, for distribution within schools and local food shelves.

With the help of various fundraising efforts and grants, Growing Grant County continues to expand its resources. In the coming months, the organization will add a new meat processing trailer which will increase processing capabilities. Additionally, Growing Grant County will be increasing its classroom space for continued learning in the winter and will add an industrial grade generator to the greenhouse to ensure essential equipment is operating properly if power is interrupted.

The organization’s innovative approach educates students in the proper processing, storage, and distribution of meats to local food shelves. Students have unique access to a processing and butchering trailer and necessary refrigeration equipment to give students hands-on experience to learn about food processing. Additionally, the initiative collaborates with local farmers, gardeners, and growers to collect excess produce, process it, and distribute it to those in need, effectively promoting locally sourced, high-quality, and nutritious food.

“The positive impact that Growing Grant County has had on our community and the energy around the initiative is astounding,” says Derek Birdsall, general manager at Farmers Cooperative Oil of Elbow Lake and Wendell. “It is fun to see the students be inspired to give back to their community while also learning valuable life skills. We are excited to see the program continue to receive funding with the Hometown Pride grant and look forward to seeing the program grow.”

West Central Ag Boosters in support of Growing Grant County will use the Hometown Pride grant to further the initiative by providing tools and resources needed to continue to serve local residents. Specifically, the grant will be used towards electrical and space needs for the new mobile meat processing trailer, along with purchasing various items needed to produce the food.

With continuous investments back into local organizations through its Hometown Pride grant program, the Cenex brand continues to show its commitment to rural neighborhoods. By the end of 2023, Cenex will have donated over $500,000 to local organizations since the program’s inception in 2019. Through this initiative, Cenex and its network of locally owned and operated stores keep neighbors supported and connected, preserving the bonds that make these communities special.

“The Cenex brand takes great pride in supporting its local communities,” says Mimi Berlin, marketing expert at CHS. “Over the years, we have been able to support organizations like Growing Grant County that give back to the communities we call home. Hometown Pride has allowed us to continue to uphold our mission of building, maintaining and preserving strong communities.”

To learn more about how the Cenex brand gives back to local communities, follow us on FacebookInstagramTikTok and YouTube, or visit www.Cenex.com/local-giving.

About Cenex
Cenex (www.cenex.com), the energy brand of CHS, provides high-quality refined fuels through nearly 1,400-plus locally-owned convenience store locations across 19 states. Consumers depend on Cenex fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products to power homes, businesses and communities. CHS Inc.(www.chsinc.com), which owns the Cenex brand, is a leading global agribusiness owned by American farmers across the United States with domestic and international operations including energy, agronomy, grain trading and food processing.

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