Thanks to questions relating to pigs and pork, consumers who shop at metro-area farmer’s markets and take part in community festivals helped generate a 5,000-pound ground pork donation to Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization.
The donation culminates a full summer of Minnesota Pork Board (MPB) hosted Oink Outings events. With the goal of fostering consumer and farmer engagement, the MPB set up its Oink Outings tent at 16 farmer’s markets and nine community events this summer. To help coax discussions between consumers and hog farmers, the MPB pledged one pound of ground pork for each pig and pork related question asked by event attendees.
MPB President Bill Crawford of Fairmont was among the volunteering pork producers who took part in Oink Outing events by answering consumers’ questions. He noted that people were much more willing to take part when they learned their queries generated a food shelf contribution.
“People seemed to be more comfortable asking a question when they found out a donation would be made,” Crawford said.
What do pigs eat was the most common question Oink Outings guests asked hog farmers. Faribault County hog farmer Lori Stevermer said that even the simplest questions led to exciting and interesting discussions with consumers.
Second Harvest Heartland Executive Director Rob Zeaske and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Jim Boerboom helped recognize the donation at a special event earlier this month at the Second Harvest Heartland headquarters in St. Paul. Also on hand were representatives from the MPB and Minnesota Pork Producers Association (MPPA) who toured the warehouse and shipping facilities to learn more about Second Harvest Heartland’s distribution channels and its need for further food contributions.
“Second Harvest Heartland extends our sincerest gratitude to the Minnesota Pork Board for their generous donation,” Zeaske said. “Protein donations like pork are tremendously valuable, as they are some of the most costly to buy for our neighbors in need. In Minnesota, ending hunger need not be a coin-in-a-fountain-wish. I am hopeful because, although the root causes of poverty are complex, feeding a neighbor isn’t. We can do this.”
Tony Mans, director of food sourcing for Second Harvest Heartland, said over 71 million pounds of food will be distributed this year to local Minnesota and western Wisconsin food shelves. Mann says that a growing population segment utilizing food shelves are rural elderly and under-employed individuals who need assistance meeting their families’ food needs.
Minnesota Pork Checkoff funded the educational and promotional elements of the Oink Outings program and the MPPA purchased the freshly ground pork from Odenthal Meats, New Prague, Minn. The donation translates into 20,000 servings of pork.