For a fourth year, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has committed corn checkoff funds to support the Pork Power program. Pork Power has provided enough frozen pork to food banks in Illinois for over 1.2 million meals. Recently, ICMB director Tom Mueller participated in a pork donation in the Quad Cities. Pork Power is an example of the farm groups working together to have a positive outcome within agriculture, and in the non-farm public.
On September 28th, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) presented the River Bend Foodbank with 4,583 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 have made to the eight regional foodbanks associated with Feeding Illinois, which provides 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 Gary Asay, a pork producer from Osco, Ill. and Past President 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 River Bend Foodbank.”
Tom Mueller, a corn farmer from Taylor Ridge, Ill., and current District 3 director 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.”
Pork Power is a natural partnership for soybean farmers, says Pat Dumoulin, a soybean and hog farmer from Hampshire, 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,” Dumoulin 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 Tom Laughlin, Executive Director for the River Bend Foodbank (www.riverbendfoodbank.org). “This pork donation will help the River Bend Foodbank provide more than 18,000 servings of vital meat protein to the citizens it serves.”
River Bend Foodbank is the largest hunger relief organization in the Quad Cities and surrounding communities, distributing 7 million lbs of food annually to more than 300 charitable feeding programs throughout a 22 county service area in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.
“This donation comes at a critical time with reserves at food banks being very low due to the increase in demand,” said Laughlin. “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 families.”