Pork project raises funds to support food bank program
July 15, 2020, Guelph, Ont. – The Pork Industry Gratitude Project has raised $85,000 since April to support the Friends of the Foodbank program, which provides fresh ground pork to the Feed Ontario network of foodbanks.
An additional $15,000 will be made available to county pork associations that will allow them to increase community-based food donations.
The project is a grassroots initiative launched by hog farmers in Perth County. They were looking to make a positive impact in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
Even as farmers themselves struggled with on-farm challenges and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, organizers of the project saw three ways they could help make things better for others:
- Increasing support for Feed Ontario through the Ontario Pork Friends of the Foodbank Program.
- Providing additional funds for community-based food giving by local pork associations.
- Hosting Farmer-to-Frontline Worker Appreciation Box Lunches for employees at Ontario’s two largest processing plants.
With support from county-level pork associations, farming families, Ontario Pork and businesses connected to agriculture, the group exceeded its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 by more than a third.
Gold level sponsors include South West Ontario Veterinary Services and Purina (Cargill). Silver level sponsors include Farmer’s Farmacy/Grand Valley Fortifiers, Synergy Swine Inc., Schlegel Home Farms and Floradale Feed Mill.
“We’re incredibly grateful to see how the industry came together to have a positive impact during some challenging times that affected all of us,” said John Nyenhuis, a Perth County farmer and one of the organizers of the Pork Industry Gratitude Project. “No matter what challenges they were facing on other fronts, these farmers, farm groups and businesses stepped up to help others. That’s the spirit that makes me proud to be a pork producer.”
Ontario’s pork sector has a long history of involvement with Feed Ontario, but this is the largest single-year donation since the program began. Since 2013, Ontario Pork’s Friends of the Food Bank program has donated 107,096 pounds (239,605 kg) of fresh ground pork to Feed Ontario. That’s the equivalent of 726,062 adult servings, or 1,452,143 child-sized servings.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought job losses and economic uncertainty across the province, resulting in food banks seeing a surge in demand as communities worked to adjust to a rapidly changing world,” said Carolyn Stewart-Stockwell, executive director of Feed Ontario. “Having a reliable supply of healthy, fresh protein makes a huge difference in the lives of individuals and families facing food insecurity. We’re very appreciative of the efforts of the pork industry to make that happen — particularly when our province needed this support the most.”
Ontario Pork represents the 1,180 farmers who market 5.5 million hogs in the province. Ontario’s pork industry generates $2.6 billion in economic output and 13,186 in full-time equivalent jobs.