INMAN — A dozen volunteers, from 8 to eighty years old, packed 70 meals Monday afternoon in the basement of Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church in Inman. Each meal was packaged in a brown lunch bag with a "Feed the Farmers" sticker placed on the outside.

Church members donated food for the meals, which were given out for free to area farmers.

"We're a church in the middle of many different communities and we come from many different places," said Pastor Lynn Schlosser . "...We wanted to find a way to reach out and give back to the farming community that does so much for us and this was a really creative idea that one of our outreach members came up with."

Volunteers prepared the meals on two different nights, though they did not know until a few days beforehand when they would be needed.

"We couldn't set our dates until the very last minute, when we knew harvest was starting," Schlosser said. "...The key is being flexible, just like the farmers are flexible."

Half of the "Feed the Farmers" meals were picked up at the church and taken to farmers in their fields. The rest were given out at the grain elevators at Buhler and Groveland to whichever farmers happened to stop by.

Sonja Good and her father, Bill Ediger, worked to place plastic bags filled with cookies into each brown paper bag.

"It's been a fun thing to bring us together — all generations working together and showing people who we are," Good said.

Each meal also included a sandwich, chips, trail mix and a bottle of water for the harvesters.

"It's something very easy that they can eat while they're working," Good said.

Several of the volunteers agreed that they preferred getting together at Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church to share the work, rather than having to prepare a meal, serve a harvesting crew all at once and then clean up in their own homes.

"It helps the wives because they don't have to cook and take so much time away from the field, they can still go out," Good said.

Plans are already in the works to continue the "Feed the Farmers" program for next year's harvest time.

"I think if we do this every year, it's probably something that will grow," Schlosser said. "We started with just two nights this year and we're considering going to three nights next year."

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.