In recognition of the partnership between Illinois’ corn and livestock producers, the IL Corn Marketing Board supports Pork Power, a program of the IL Pork Producers Association that coordinates the donation of frozen pork products to food pantries in Illinois. Illinois’ pork industry is expected to consume 84 million bushels of corn in the 2010-11 crop year, by far the biggest livestock customer of corn in the state.
On October 19th, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) presented the Central Illinois Foodbank with 5,455 pounds of ground pork as part of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign.
This pork is part of a larger donation totaling more than 42,000 pounds of ground pork that the pork, corn, and soybean groups have made to the eight regional food banks associated with Feeding Illinois, which provide food to nearly 2,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that feed nearly 900,000 residents throughout the state of Illinois. The donation was made during October Pork Month which offers a special time to honor pork producers’ commitment to producing safe, nutritious food as they promote animal well-being, safeguard natural resources, and contribute to a better quality of life in their communities.
In 2008, IPPA launched Pork Power with the goal of helping fight hunger in Illinois. It provides a system for farmers to donate pork to food banks associated with Feeding Illinois, a partner to Feeding America - the largest hunger relief organization in the U.S.
IPPA has partnered with ICMB, ISA and the Illinois Association of Meat Processors (IAMP) in this effort. During the three years, Pork Power has generated more than 200,000 pounds of pork - enough for more than 800,000 meals - for families throughout Illinois. Pork, soybean and corn producers committed funds from their respective checkoff programs to support this program. The Pork Power program is also an opportunity to promote pork as families are educated on how to prepare and incorporate pork into their favorite dishes. Families receive information on the important nutritional, mental and physical benefits of including protein in the diet.
“Pork producers are committed to helping their neighbors throughout the state who are having difficulty feeding their families,” said Dereke Dunkirk, a pork producer from Morrisonville and current Vice-President/Treasurer of the IL Pork Producers Association (www.ilpork.com). “Illinois pork producers are dedicated to producing safe, wholesome and affordable food and are proud to work with the partnering organizations to support Feeding Illinois and this donation to the Central Illinois Foodbank.”
Tim Seifert, a corn farmer from Auburn, Ill., and current board of director for the IL Corn Marketing Board (www.ilcorn.org) explains that the partnership is the right thing to do at the right time. “This summer I shared sweet corn from my family farm with my local food pantry. It really hit home for me when I saw that there were more families in need than I had corn. Pork Power is another way we can help, and I’m glad that Illinois corn farmers can help make pork available at a local level.”
Pork Power is a natural partnership for soybean growers, says Ross Prough, a soybean farmer from Greenfield, Ill., and Illinois Soybean Association (www.ilsoy.org) board member. “It is important for all of the Illinois commodity groups to work together for a common goal,” Prough said. “As farmers, it is our responsibility to feed the world. The Pork Power program helps us start by feeding those in need in Illinois while also promoting the livestock industry, which is the top consumer of soybeans.”
Each day, Illinois food banks provide access to healthy and nutritious food in an effort to keep families across Illinois from going to bed hungry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends meat protein as part of a nutritious and healthy diet but because of limited supply it is often difficult for food banks to provide adequate access to protein.
“We are so grateful for this donation of nutritious protein,” said John Bannon, public relations manager for Central Illinois Foodbank (www.centralilfoodbank.org). “This pork donation will help Central Illinois Foodbank provide more than 21,800 servings of vital meat protein to the citizens it serves.”
Central Illinois Foodbank distributes more than six million pounds of food annually to 165 food pantries, soup kitchens, residential programs and after-school programs in a 21 county region. “We help feed over 17,600 different people through our member agencies each week and this donation comes at a critical time with reserves at food banks being very low due to the increase in demand,” said Bannon.
“Food banks around Illinois have seen on average a 30 percent increase in the number of people seeking food assistance in the past year,” said Tracy Smith, State Director for Feeding Illinois (www.feedingillinois.org). “Because of partners like the IL Pork Producers Association, IL Soybean Association, and IL Corn Marketing Board we will be able to put food on the table for thousands of Illinoisans.”
The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is an agricultural trade association representing more than 2,900 pork producers throughout Illinois and the Illinois pork industry, which contributes more than $1.7 billion and more than 7,800 jobs to the State’s economy. IPPA is comprised of county pork producer groups in approximately 20 counties throughout IL. IPPA is an affiliate of the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board.
Central Illinois Foodbank www.centralilfoodbank.org was established in 1982 by a coalition of churches and nonprofit organizations concerned about hunger and poverty. The mission of the Foodbank is to collect donated food and grocery items from growers, manufacturers, processors, wholesalers and retailers for distribution to charitable agencies serving people in need. Central Illinois Foodbank distributes over six million pounds of food annually to over 165 food pantries, soup kitchens, residential programs and after-school programs in a 21 county region. Central Illinois Foodbank is an affiliate of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization.