Cooperative spirit

Stepping up for kids in Mankato

Group of women dressed in CHS shirts

Putting their best foot forward, the Mankato, Minn., plant “Not Fast, Just Furious” team included, left to right, front row: Chris Wilder, Clare Scott, Dionne Stenzel, Lori Prail; second row: Jeanne Hassing, Laurie Cords; third row: Connie Miller, Ashley Kamps, Amy Jensen; fourth row: Cheerleader Jim Graham, Teresa Davis, cheerleader Josslyn, Renae Kamm and Chelsey Reinhart.

Mar 25, 2020

A dozen employees from the CHS Processing and Food Ingredients plant in Mankato, Minn., showed their true strength this winter at a local fundraising event. The all-female team completed 10 laps around the Bresnan Arena at Minnesota State University, Mankato, climbing up and down every aisle to raise money to feed area children – a total of 7,680 steps!

“It was way more of a workout than you might think. We were sore for a few days afterward, but it was well worth it. I think everybody would do it again,” says Ashley Kamps, CHS sales coordinator, who recruited the CHS relay team for the Climb 2 Feed Kids stepathon in January. “Jim Graham, our plant manager, came and cheered for each person as we made our way around the arena. That kept us going.” 

Climb 2 Feed Kids is the biggest annual fundraising event for the Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP) organization, which tackles youth hunger by sending food home in the backpacks of elementary and middle school students. This year’s event raised more than $100,000, including $1,200 earned by the CHS “Not Fast, Just Furious” team.  

“This event is not for the faint of heart. The women from CHS were so enthusiastic and did an outstanding job climbing all those stairs. And the event is held on a Sunday, so they gave of their day off, too,” says Kristin Weeks Duncanson of Mapleton, Minn., a former FOCP board chair whose family farm delivers soybeans to CHS.  

“As farmers, we value our partners up and down the food supply chain,” says Duncanson. “We pay attention to who is engaged with efforts that matter to us, like filling the missing meal gap or supporting 4-H and FFA. If it’s valuable to the community and empowers agriculture, that gets our attention. We’re so appreciative of the folks at CHS. It means a lot to us.” 

Kamps was inspired to organize the step climbing team after a group of CHS volunteers filled backpacks for the organization, toured its distribution sites and saw the full impact of the backpack programs.  

“So many kids in our community are impacted by not having enough food. The backpack program puts into perspective how fortunate we are,” says Kamps, who also volunteered with her two children to pack food for students over the holiday break. “CHS was an aisle sponsor at the climb event in the past, but this year was different. It felt good to have a whole group of us getting out there, being a part of the community and showing our cooperative spirit.”