JEFFERSON CITY — The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri picked up the first donation of pork from Missouri Farmers Care’s Drive to Feed Kids Tuesday. In partnership with the Missouri Pork Association, Missouri pig farmers donated 101 hogs for the first day of processing under the new Pork Partnership. JBS Pork assisted in the effort, including providing the hogs’ transportation to Central Missouri Meats in Fulton for processing. The donation consisted of 10,560 pounds of ground pork – more than 48,000 servings – and provides much-needed, high-quality protein for hungry Missourians.
“Since it launched in 2017, the Drive to Feed Kids has focused on addressing food insecurity in children across Missouri,” said Don Nikodim, executive director of the Missouri Pork Association. “We’re proud to have been part of the effort each year, and especially now to see how our partners across agriculture have stepped up to address the needs during these challenging times. Missouri agriculture has a track record of coming together to solve problems, and this is one way to help in today’s tough situation. While the backlogged pork processing plants continue their work, this partnership provides for hog producers without markets and helps meet increased demands on our food banks.”
According to Feeding Missouri, 1.2 million Missourians faced food insecurity before the COVID-19 crisis, including 1 in 5 people in rural areas. With increased unemployment, the situation has only worsened over the past few months. The Drive to Feed Kids works to reduce food insecurity across Missouri, in partnership with Feeding Missouri and their network of food banks. Meanwhile, slowdowns driven by coronavirus among major pork processors have strained the supply chain. The Drive to Feed Kids Pork Partnership bridges the gap between Missourians needing a hand up and pork producers facing a reduction in processing availability.
More than $100,000 has already been raised for the effort. Missouri’s agricultural organizations and businesses, including Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Soybean Association, FCS Financial, MFA Incorporated, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, founders of Protect the Harvest, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Paseo Biofuels, LLC, and Biofuels, LLC have donated to cover processing and transportation costs in this partnership.
Bill Kessler, a pig farmer from Mexico, Mo., was one of the first to donate to the program.
“It’s great to see everyone come together right now – our farmers, our local processors, and our communities,” Kessler said. “It’s so important that we all give where we can, and I was proud to be a part of this effort. We’re really fortunate to not be in such a tight spot as some of our fellow pork producers, and appreciate the work everyone’s doing to help it stay that way.”
The program will continue to accept donations of hogs as local processing space and funds are available. Pig farmers and meat processors can take part by contacting the Missouri Pork Association. Individuals and companies can donate funds to support the effort at MOFarmersCare.com/drive. Contributions will be recognized as part of the 2020 Drive to Feed Kids.
In 2019, the Drive to Feed Kids donated 4.3 million meals to hungry Missouri families. Feeding Missouri’s six regional partner food banks distributed the food statewide. To learn more about Missouri Farmers Care and the 2020 Drive to Feed Kids, visit MOFarmersCare.com/drive.
— Missouri Farmers Care
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