Ont. program donates pork to food banks

Ont. program donates pork to food banks
Apr 20, 2020

The Friends of the Food Bank committee is working to raise funds and organize logistics to clear any backlog of hogs to be processed and donated to those in need

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are out of work and struggling to cover the cost of food. Friends of the Food Bank collects monetary donations, which are matched by Ontario Pork, and go towards providing food banks across Ontario with pork products.

“There are going to be more and more people going to food banks,” Steve Thomas, chair of Friends of the Food Bank, told Farms.com. “The numbers are expanding on a daily basis. … (COVID-19) has caused a huge surge in people looking to supplement their food intake.”

At the same time, there are farmers in the province who may be stuck trying to find somewhere to move their finished hogs, due to plant closures and strains on processing capacity.

Friends of the Food Bank is working to find a solution to help clear some of the backlog of pork, and get donations to food banks.

“We’re working on that really hard at the moment,” Thomas said. “We have some producers who donate hogs (directly) …  It’s difficult, because we don’t have a lot of provincial plants,” so finding processing availability is one challenge. Funding is the other limiting factor.

The majority of the program involves fundraising from agri-businesses, and “with that money we purchase pork from the federal plants. The reason we do that is we then know it’s Ontario pork,”

Then, the organization finds a business to grind and pack the meat, and put an Ontario Pork logo on it. Feed Ontario manages the distribution to local food banks.

Beyond processing logistics, Friends of the Food Bank needs funds to purchase the pork and coordinate processing and donation.

“Whatever funds we come up with as Friends of the Food Bank, Ontario Pork matches those. So in some ways the producers are putting into it already,” Thomas said.

To provide further assistance, “producers or farmers (could) ask their suppliers if they have donated to this cause. If they go to their feed company, veterinarian, chemical company, seed company or people they buy machinery from,” farmers could ask if they’d be willing to donate. Ontario Pork matches donations and the Friends of the Food Bank team is working hard to clear the backlog of pork, Thomas explained.

Friends of the Food Bank has helped to donate 107,000 kilograms (235,400 pounds) of pork since 2013.

His team takes pride in “showing the community that agriculture is giving back,” Thomas said. Data collected prior to the COVID-19 situation revealed that 1 in 3 people who accessed food banks were children. “Young people need protein for skeletal and muscle development and brain development,” explained Thomas.

To find out more or make a donation, click here.

Yoyochow23\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo

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