By DOUG GRAVES
COLUMBUS, Ohio — This Easter holiday Ohio hog farmers made donations of 37,554 pounds of pork to food banks in five Ohio cities. That donation was enough to provide more than 187,000 meals to help hungry residents.
“Ohio hog farmers have been actively involved in the fight against hunger for years,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Assoc. of Foodbanks. “They’ve donated 935,000 meals of nutritious pork to Ohio food banks since 2009.
“And this past holiday the Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC) again rose to the occasion. This timely and generous donation means so much to the hungry people our food banks serve.”
Cities involved with this effort included Freestore Foodbank of Cincinnati (10,800 pounds), Cleveland Foodbank (7,440), Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Columbus (8,604), the Foodbank, Inc. in Dayton (5,892) and Toledo Northwestern Ohio Foodbank (4,818).
“Providing Ohio-raised, Ohio-produced pork to people in need is a true testament to the generosity of our state’s agriculture industry. Our emergency food assistance network is thrilled to be able to provide this pork to the people it serves,” said Hamler-Fugitt.
Keeping tabs on this effort was Quinton Keeran, OPPC manager of communications.
“The farmers took pigs into participating meat processors in small loads over the course of a few weeks,” Keeran said. “In the past, some farms have pledged to donate 10,000 pounds of pork over the course of so many years. This program is built more on those willing to contribute at a given time, based on need.”
While the donation comes in time for Easter, Hamler-Fugitt explained it also comes at a time when lines have grown longer at Ohio’s food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. According to the Food Research and Action Center, 20 percent of Ohioans had a tough time buying enough food at least once in the last year.
Ohio isn’t the only state with farmers willing to share their bounty. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, Inc., the Illinois Pork Producers Assoc. and the Pennsylvania Pork Producer’s Council, for example, have similar efforts.
Another fight against hunger occurs each fall when several organizations assist hunters in donating a portion of all their venison to folks in need. Such organizations include Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Hunters for the Hungry, Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH), Buckmasters American Deer Foundation’s Project Venison and Safari Club International’s SCI Sportsmen Against Hunger.
In these efforts, local food bank affiliates take the meat to one of various agencies for preparation. The deer processor is paid through private donations.