(Springfield, Illinois) - The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) presented the Midwest Food Bank with a check for $7,500 on December 15th as part of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign. The donation was made to support Gridley Meats continued processing of hogs donated by local pork producers.
IPPA continued the Pork Power program during 2009 and partnered with ICMB, ISA and the Illinois Association of Meat Processors (IAMP) to build upon the success of the 2008 campaign in which the partners provided more than 100,000 pounds of donated pork to food banks in Illinois.
“Nutritionists tell us that a healthy, well-balanced diet including lean protein is important for managing weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure,” says Mike Haag, a pork producer from Emington and current IPPA Vice President/Treasurer. “It is important that Illinois families have access to the nutrients they need not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year as well. Illinois pork producers are dedicated to producing safe, wholesome and affordable food and are proud to work with the partnering organizations to support the Midwest Food Bank and Gridley Meats' pork donation program.”
Donna Jeschke, a corn producer from Mazon, Ill. and immediate past chair of the IL Corn Marketing Board 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 (www.ilcorn.org) or pork producers, but most importantly, our neighbors throughout Central Illinois will receive protein which is vital to everyone's nutritional needs.”
Pork Power is a natural partnership for soybean growers, says Matt Hughes, a soybean grower from Shirley, Ill. and board member of the Illinois Soybean Association (www.ilsoy.org). “It is important for all of the Illinois commodity groups to work together for a common goal. As farmers, it is our responsibility to feed the world. The Pork Power program helps us start by feeding those in need in Illinois."
Ringger brothers Stan, Steve, Scott, and Brent were raised on a grain and farrow-to-finish hog farm that Stan and Brent still operate today. Steve and Scott stayed in the field of agriculture, but not on the farm. They work for JBS United, a grain and feed company. In 1999, the brothers purchased a meat processing plant and locker, Gridley Meats.
“A few years ago, we realized that by combining our efforts, we could fulfill a need within our community,’ said Steve Ringger. The farm began turning over pigs to the locker for processing, which in turn, donated the processed ground pork to local food pantries.
Today, the Ringgers receive pig donations from approximately eight pork producers. The pork products are then donated to the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington. “We deliver 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of donated pork to Midwest Food Bank each month, which is then distributed to needy families throughout Central Illinois,” said Ringger.
The Midwest Food Bank was created just six years ago when the Kieser family began providing food out of a shed on their family farm. The Midwest Food Bank began by serving about 10 food pantries in McLean County. Today they serve over 500 organizations across the Midwest. The food given out each month now reaches over 100,000 people.
“The Ringgers and the other pork producers who donate pigs are helping to bridge the gap between prosperity and poverty,” said David Kieser, President, Midwest Food Bank. "They have taken on the challenge of helping others, and they are doing so with a nutritious, high-quality product that is an important addition to our food bank. The donation by the pork, corn, and soybean groups will help us to further our efforts during these difficult economic times.”