United Way partners with local agencies to distribute pork

By Mike Thomas
Courier-Post Sports Editor
Posted: Jun. 16, 2020 4:43 pm Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 4:49 pm

HANNIBAL | The United Way of the Mark Twain Area and the Missouri Farm Bureau partnered together to help distribute 8,400 pounds of pork to food pantries and senior centers in Northeast Missouri for the second time this year.

This is the second major donation of pork that the United Way has coordinated in the past three months to help provide relief to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously, there are a lot of people here that were happy to make this project come to be,” said United Way of the Mark Twain Area executive director Denise Damron. “There were a lot of smiles and a lot of people who were happy to see this. Our truck driver volunteered his time, his truck and his fuel to make this trip down to Fulton and back.”

The pork was delivered to Douglass Community Services in Hannibal, where the truck was unloaded and distributed to various different agencies.

Families across Northeast Missouri have been impacted due to the unemployment and financial disaster created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Food pantries in the region are being strained as the need is higher now than any time since the Great Recession 12 years ago.

“In April, the Emergency Food Pantry at Douglass Community Services saw 52 percent of our clients coming in for the first time,” said Douglass Community Services community outreach initiatives director Stacey Nicholas. “The economy and public health issues are resulting in more people needing assistance.”

Like with the first round of pork donations, the hogs were provided by local farmers who contract with JBS Pork. Due to the shutdown of processing plants, the hogs were available to any processor that could be found that had the ability to butcher the hogs.

Local farmer Joe Kendrick, who is President of the Marion County Farm Bureau, worked alongside former owner of the Country Butcher Shop, Ed Dent, to find a processing plant back in April. Those two were able to connect with Central Missouri Meats & Sausage in Fulton, which have processed 426 hogs donated by JBS Pork.

Missouri Farm Bureau Northeast Regional Coordinator Mindy Breid said Kendrick reached out to her for help to get this project going. She then reached out to county boards in her district.

“Each county board wanted to contribute money, so they each donated money and it was matched by our home office down in Jefferson City,” Breid said. “The partnership then came about with United Way when we were short on funding, they had received some federal funding and were able to make up the difference.”

The donated pork was distributed to organizations in Adair, Howard, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler and Shelby Counties.

The pork delivered to Hannibal on Monday was from 100 hogs, with the processing costs coming out at $9,500.

“I know that the food banks throughout the entire state have been maxed out on people coming in and needing product from those places,” Breid said. “So this has been a huge help, especially in the rural farming community. Alot of those families depend on those food banks on a regular basis, but especially now with the coronavirus outbreak.”

Damron said all of the volunteers involved in the pork donation project see this as a priority within their community.

“Today, we distributed 8,400 pounds of pork and we consider a pound of pork to equate four meals,” Damron said. “So a quarter of a pound equates to one meal. That means that 33,600 worth of meals worth of pork were distributed today.”

Breid said it has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this project.

“When an opportunity comes along for us to serve our communities, we are always excited to take part,” Breid said. “In these ever changing times, it is important for us to support one another.”

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