HANNIBAL | The United Way of the Mark Twain Area is partnering with local food pantries and senior centers to help provide meals for those in need.
Many area food pantries have seen a shortage of food due to more people coming in during the past month due to the coronavirus crisis. The United Way of the Mark Twain Area has come up with a new program to help replenish local food banks.
Joe Kendrick is a Marion County farmer who reached out to United Way to participate in Aly's Project – an initiative where local youth can donated livestock after fair season to food pantries.
Kendrick contracts with JBS, who currently is not taking cull hogs, which may have a hernia or do not make market weight.
JBS then donated 100 cull hogs to the United Way to be distributed to local food pantries and senior centers. Each hog costs $95 to be processed, with the processing costs being paid by a donation from Continental Cement to the United Way.
“This resulted in having hogs available for them to process and donated into the community, as long as we had the funding to pay for processing of these hogs,” said Mark Twain Area United Way Executive Director Denise Damron . “Each hog we have processed, we are working with Central Missouri Meat and Sausage in Fulton.”
The 100 donated hogs will total around 15,000 pounds worth of meat, which will be enough for 60,000 meals to feed individuals in Northeast Missouri. After the hogs are processed in Fulton, the meat will be transported back to the area by Brian Gaines Trucking. It will then be distributed to food pantries and senior centers in Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties.
The Paris Senior Center is going to get one of the pigs donated by Aly's Project.
“Especially when it's tougher times than normal, to get this kind of donation means a lot to the clients that we serve – people who are struggling to make ends meet right now,” said Paris Senior Center Executive Director Tara Garside. “It's just amazing, it's been a great experience and I'm glad that we've been able to be a part of it.”
Garside said the meat donations have been a blessing and will make a big difference.
“With that pork I was able to make my menus up to use it,” Garside said. “Additionally, I was able to send pork to clients I knew were struggling to have enough to eat at their homes.”
Prior to this donation, the Monroe City Food Pantry workers were worried about whether they would have enough food for their clients. They also will be receiving pork through Aly's Project.
Monroe City Food Pantry board member Melissa Hays said there has been an increase of people coming in for food due to COVID-19 related job cuts.
“We had been struggling to keep meat and protein in our food bank,” Hays said. “We have spent around $1,000 of our own money to order chicken and pork from local suppliers.”
The Monroe City Food Pantry is anticipating around 250 families will come in for assistance. Normally, around 130 to 140 families come in each month.
Hays said it was nerve wracking last month as the Monroe City Food Pantry was worried about running out of food.
“When you are in there loading those grocery carts and you see those pallets so rapidly dwindling down and you are wondering how many carts are going to come through here (you are worried that) I'm going to have to tell somebody I don't have anything to put in their trunk,” Hays said.