Faribault County ‘pays it forward’ with shoe donation

After the Stepping Up: From Farm to Frontline campaign completed its first leg, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) was left with big shoes to fill. The Council decided the best way to take the next steps and make a bigger impact on communities and educating of the “miracle bean” was to dedicate more funds to the campaign, but with a twist.  

In 2023, Stepping Up is dedicated toward giving back to any organization or entity in Minnesota where the local county boards see a need. Minnesota’s organized county soybean boards are donating to schools, homeless shelters, fire departments, students in need and organizations that make impacts in their communities.   

The Faribault County Corn and Soybean Growers Association, in partnership with MSR&PC, which directs the state’s soybean checkoff resources, continues the Stepping Up campaign to promote the value-added uses of soybeans and make community connections. In May 2023, Faribault County soybean farmers donated soy-based Skechers shoes to Clark Crossings by Heartland Senior Living in Wells and St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center in Blue Earth. Twenty pairs of shoes were donated to health care workers at each location.  

“This is a pretty neat event where we get to pay it forward to people who do not always get the recognition they deserve,” said Wells farmer Darin Johnson, a Faribault County board member and vice president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. “It’s been great to work with the Stepping Up program to be able to teach people more about soybeans.” 

The continuation of the Stepping Up campaign aims to inform more consumers on the value that soybeans bring to the market as well as how versatile the crop is. Minnesota farmers also want to honor local organizations that are making a difference in their communities.

Fairbault County soybean farmers Kalyn Kalis (left) and Jeff Ignaszewski (far right) make a soy-based shoe donation to health care workers at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center.

“I think it’s very nice to have been chosen as shoe recipients and to be recognized,” said a health care worker at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center.  

In summer 2022, more than 53 counties around Minnesota participated in the first Stepping Up campaign. In 2022 alone, Minnesota farmers and the soybean checkoff donated nearly 3,000 pairs of Skechers soy-based shoes across 120 Minnesota health care facilities. Last year, Faribault County also donated shoes to both Parkview Care Center by Heartland Senior Living and St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center.  

“The Council felt the drive to provide more funds to continue Stepping Up after seeing the impact on the recipients,” MSR&PC Chair Joe Serbus said. “Health care workers were thankful and appreciative of the gesture last summer, so we chose to continue to spread our message on soybean versatility and the delight the shoes bring the recipients.”   

In 2020, Skechers released its GO line of footwear, which uses soybean oil to improve grip, stability and durability. Skechers is using the same checkoff-supported technology featured in Goodyear Tire Company’s line of sustainable soy-based tires, which incorporated soy into its rubber technology.  

By using soybean oil in Skechers’ GO line, Goodyear’s tire compound reduces petroleum-based use, ultimately cutting energy consumption, weight and promoting sustainability while increasing efficiency.  

For each dollar Faribault County soybean farmers pay toward checkoff resources, growers receive an estimated $12.34 in return value. More than 1,000 commercially available products – ranging from shoes to machinery lubricants to asphalt – use commodity and high oleic soybean oil. 

Learn more on Stepping Up by visiting mnsoybean.org/stepping-up

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