Chuck Kuhn, JK Community Farm and Partnerships to End Hunger

Chuck Kuhn, JK Community Farm and Partnerships to End Hunger

“Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

Chuck Kuhn, founder, President and CEO of Loudoun-based JK Moving Services, has purchased a 150-acre working farm in Purcellville, VA, to essentially help improve the world, starting here in Loudoun. The Farm, aptly named JK Community Farm will grow a massive amount of vegetables as well as raise cattle, pork, and venison for consumption, all to be donated for distribution to struggling families in our community and eventually around the beltway.

“For more than 36 years we have been moving families and companies around the globe. At the heart of our business are core values of care and respect. You will see it in our work, you will see it in our culture, you will see it in our staff and in our community efforts,” said Kuhn.

For many years, the Kuhn family has supported many causes, especially dealing with children. “It came down to us wanting to do more.  Wanting to give back more, wanting to get more involved in the community and that is what launched what we are doing here today, the JK Community Farm,” said Kuhn.

“We purchased 150 acres in Purcellville, VA, from a third-generation farming family. The 150 acres will be placed in a conservation easement to protect the open space.”

JK Community Farm has hired Mike Smith, a highly experienced organic farmer, to be the general manager of the farm and Tom Nicholson, a local cattleman to oversee the cattle, hogs, and venison.

The JK Community Farm will grow 16 different types of vegetables. According to Kuhn, that part of the farm will initially produce an estimated 53,000 pounds of vegetables in 2018 to bring back into the community.

In addition, the farm will produce and donate 40,000 pounds of meat to Loudoun.

According to Kuhn, the sole mission and vision of the JK Community farm is to help produce food and end food insecurity for the local area.

“The two key words here are ‘food insecurity’ which means a person has been forced to skip a meal due to lack of resources or they don’t know where their next meal will come from,” said Kuhn.

“Over 46 million Americans, ‘Americans,’ do not know where their next meal is going to come from today,” said Kuhn.  “One is six children in the United States will go to bed tonight hungry. With the efforts we are starting here today, working together with other organizations in the community, we know this will make a difference.“

The JK Community Farm will begin donating its produce and meat in Loudoun County, then work toward surrounding counties and eventually work around the beltway.

“We are going to see how sustainable we can make this and how far we can make it grow,” said Kuhn.

JK Moving Services which Kuhn started at age 16 with a $5,000 loan from his uncle has grown exponentially over the years. By any objective measure, Kuhn’s approach to business has paid off.  The company has averaged a 25 percent compounded annual growth rate for the past 35 years.

To that end, Kuhn’s business is a dominate and ground-breaking player in the residential and commercial moving industry – and one of the largest independent movers in the nation.  With this, there is little doubt in the county that JK Community Farm will exceed expectation.

JK Community Farm will partner with Loudoun Hunger Relief which is one of the most successful food pantries in the nation.

Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR) has served as Loudoun County’s primary emergency food pantry, providing food assistance to the hungry and food insecure in Loudoun. From the first storefront in the Virginia Village Shopping Center to the current two warehouse operation, the goal has always been to ensure that no one in Loudoun County goes hungry.

“One of the problems with this business [farming in general] is product distribution – proper and timely distribution of the produce and meat.  That is why we are partnering with Loudoun Hunger Relief,” said Kuhn.

Loudoun Hunger Relief will provide the distribution channels through its 26-year evolution and growth in the county.

“Last year Loudoun Hunger Relief provided 1.2 million pounds of food to more than 8,000 Loudoun residents. That equated to 1 million meals,” said Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director of Loudoun Hunger Relief.

Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director of Loudoun Hunger Relief

“We are serving between 4 and 50 families each time we open our doors which is 7 times over 6 days per week, or about 1500 to 2500 people served a week,” said Montgomery.

According to Montgomery, while Loudoun is considered one of the wealthiest counties, about 4% of the total county population is still considered food insecure and 9% of children in Loudoun are identified as food insecure.

Of those families only about 36% are eligible for federal nutrition programs, leaving 64% wondering where their next meal will come from.

“What that means is that some people are caught between a rock and a hard place, making too much money to get the assistance but they are still not making enough money to meet their basic needs,” said Montgomery. “The families we serve here are working, most working multiple jobs.”

Loudoun Hunger Relief is also committed to more than just providing calories they are committed to providing good and healthy foods that contribute to wellness.

“In addition to providing healthy foods, we are committed to educating the folks we serve on how to prepare healthy food on a budget and how to identify some of the health issues they may be having,” said Montgomery.

“In addition to what Jennifer said, this effort will also help pull together other local food pantries in the area for a larger joint effort, said Kuhn.”

“There really is only one word for what we are doing here today and that word is a “blessing,” said Phyllis Randal, Chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.  “I typically don’t go to a faith place [in speeches] but this is quite the blessing.”

“We often hear Loudoun is the richest county. That is not true. It is a county of high median income which means money comes in and goes out, it’s not sustained and so we still have people who do not have the resources or food they need,” said Randall.

“By profession, I’m a mental health therapist. When I was the chair of the MSAAC, the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee, we did a study on children’s GPA [influencers] and I was absolutely sure we would find the children who had the hardest time in class would be ELS students, kids who didn’t speak English, but that wasn’t true,” said Randall. “Kids who have the hardest time in class by far, by leaps and bounds, were kids who were either precarious housed or had food insecurity.”

Left to Right: Mike Smith, General Manager, JK Community Farm; Phyllis Randall, Chair, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors; Chuck Kuhn, President and CEO, JK Moving Services; Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director of Loudoun Hunger Relief; Tony Howard, CEO, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce

Among the many in attendance to mark the kickoff of JK Community Farm, was Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Tony Howard.

“The impact of the county on a business is important but the impact of that company on the community is just as or more important,” said Howard.

“To know there are members of our community, our families, friends, neighbors that are going to benefit because of the improved food supply and healthy food they are going to receive thanks to the efforts of JK and Loudoun Hunger Relief is very heartening,” said Howard.

“Loudoun thrives and has a strong economy off of the backbone of businesses with resources, and business leaders like Chuck with the heart to dedicate those resources,” said Howard. “Caring business, community participation, and a dedicated non-profit effort make the three pillars of a strong community.  Ever sit on a two-legged stool?”

In addition to sharing meat and fresh produce, the JK Community Farm is also planning to host educational classes for nonprofit clients about cooking, gardening, nutrition. The farm will also provide volunteering opportunities for JK Moving staff and others in the community.

Brian Reynolds