As part of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), along with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) today announced a donation of more than 14,000 pounds of ground pork to the Midwest Food Bank (MFB) in Bloomington.
This donation will support the on-going efforts of Gridley Meats and several pork producers who have been donating pigs throughout the year. The donated pigs are processed by Gridley Meats, which delivers approximately 3,000 pounds of donated pork to the Midwest Food Bank each month. This donated pork is then distributed to needy families throughout Central Illinois.
In 2008, IPPA launched Pork Power with the goal of helping fight hunger in Illinois. 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.
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 Mike Haag, a pork producer from Emington and current President-Elect of the IL Pork Producers Association. “It is important that Illinois families have access to protein not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year as well. Illinois pork producers are dedicated to producing safe, wholesome and affordable food and are proud to work with the partnering organizations to support the Midwest Food Bank and Gridley Meats' pork donation program.”
Donna Jeschke, a corn farmer from Mazon, Ill., and current District 5 director of the IL Corn Marketing Board agrees that the partnership is the right thing to do at the right time. “This type of project is a winning situation for everyone involved, not just the Corn Marketing Board or pork producers, but most importantly, our neighbors throughout Illinois will receive protein which is vital to everyone's nutritional needs.”
Pork Power is a natural partnership for soybean farmers, says Dan Farney, a soybean farmer from Morton Illinois and vice chairman of the Information and Education Committee for the Illinois Soybean Association. “It is important for all of the Illinois commodity groups to work together for a common goal,” Farney 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, food banks provide access to healthy and nutritious food in an effort to keep families across Illinois from going to bed hungry. USDA recommends meat protein as part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet, yet it is often difficult for food banks to maintain an adequate supply. The Pork Power partners are committed to making meat protein available to those most in need. This donation will provide more than 57,000 servings of protein to people served by the Midwest Food Bank.
This pork donation builds upon the on-going efforts of Gridley Meats and several local pork producers. Ringger brothers Stan, Steve, Scott, and Brent were raised on a grain and farrow-to-finish hog farm that is still operated by the Ringger family. The four brothers purchased Gridley Meats back in 1999. “A few years ago, we realized that by combining our efforts, we could fulfill a need within our community,’ said Steve Ringger. The Ringger family farm began turning over pigs to the locker for processing, which in turn, donated the processed ground pork to local food pantries.
Gridley Meats periodically receives pig donations from up to eight different local pork producers. Four of these producers regularly donate pigs including: Kuntz Farms of Gridley; Ringger Farms from Gridley; Leman Farms from Eureka: and The Maschhoffs from Carlyle. The pork products are then donated to the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington. “We deliver 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of donated pork to Midwest Food Bank each month, which is then distributed to needy families throughout Central Illinois,” said Steve Ringger.
The Midwest Food Bank was created in 2003 when the Kieser family began providing food out of a shed on their family farm. The MFB began by serving about 10 food pantries in McLean County. Today they serve over 500 organizations across the Midwest. The food given out each month now reaches over 100,000 people.
“The Ringgers and the other pork producers who donate pigs are helping to bridge the gap between prosperity and poverty,” said David Kieser, President, Midwest Food Bank. "They have taken on the challenge of helping others, and they are doing so with a nutritious, high-quality product that is an important addition to our food bank. The donation by the pork, corn, and soybean groups will help us to further our efforts during these difficult economic times.”
The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) www.ilpork.com 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 organizations in approximately 20 counties throughout Illinois. IPPA is an affiliate of the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board.
Picture cutline - Midwest Food Bank Group donation.jpg – Representatives gather around a portion of 14,000 pounds of ground pork donated to the Midwest Food Bank. Pictured are (left to right) Dan Farney, IL Soybean Association; Donna Jeschke , IL Corn Marketing Board; Mike Haag, IL Pork Producers Association; Steve Ringger, Gridley Meats; Keith Leman, Leman Farms; Stan Ringger, Ringger Farms; and Mike Hoffman, Midwest Food Bank.