FARMERS FILLING GAPS FOR HUNGRY
The stalled farm bill means many problems for farmers. You can’t plan for next year, banks aren’t sure what to lend, what will crop insurance be in 2014, and will foreign market programs stay funded to serve our overseas markets…these are all issues up in the air. Nutrition programs for the nation’s hungry are a major stumbling block in the discussion. But while those in DC are talking about the issue of food insecurity, farmers are taking care of it.
On October 24th, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) presented the Central Illinois Foodbank with 5,360 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 38,000 pounds of ground pork that the pork, corn, and soybean groups will be making to the eight regional foodbanks 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 donations are being made during September Hunger Action Month and October National Pork Month.
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. Since its inception, Pork Power has generated more than 300,000 pounds of pork - enough for more than 1.2 million 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 Phil Borgic, a hog farmer from Nokomis and current board member 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.”
Kent Kleinschmidt, a corn farmer from Emden, Ill., and current Chairman for the IL Corn Marketing Board (www.ilcorn.org) 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.”
"As farmers, we believe it is our responsibility to feed the world," says Ed Mies, a farmer from Laomi, Ill., and former Illinois Soybean Association (www.ilsoy.org) board member. "Illinois commodity groups work together toward that goal, and Pork Power is a great example. Illinois livestock, especially hogs, are the top consumers of Illinois soybeans, so through this donation, soybean farmers are doing their part to feed those in need in Illinois."
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 Kaleigh Friend, public relations manager for Central Illinois Foodbank (www.centralilfoodbank.org). “This pork donation will help Central Illinois Foodbank provide more than 21,000 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 Friend.