QUINCY — Thirteen Adams County food pantries, and pantries in four other counties, are getting a helping hand from area pork producers.
Producers raising pigs for JBS donated 24 hogs, and Farm Bureaus in Adams, Brown, Pike-Scott and Schuyler counties paid for processing the ground pork distributed Thursday afternoon.
"Clients are in need of all kinds of supplies, and meat is definitely one of them. This really helps out people in our community," said Pat Redmond, director of the Loaves N Fishes Pantry in Payson.
"It's going to make a big difference," said Mary Beth McGee, leader of the community assistance ministry that oversees the pantry at St. Francis Church. "These farmers have kept us going."
With the COVID-19 pandemic boosting demand at food pantries and the price of pigs dropping, "this would be a great opportunity to give back to the community," Adams County Farm Bureau Manager Shawn Valter said, "Pantries are really in need and seeing increased demand coming in because of people's current work situation because of the virus."
Adams County Farm Bureau member Ben Hugenberg helped spearhead the project, donating some hogs himself, and reached out to area Farm Bureaus that provided more than $2,000 to cover the cost.
The Farm Bureaus divided the ground pork based on their contribution, Valter said, and in Adams County, each pantry got 60 pounds of ground pork.
"Food pantries get a lot of donations, but as far as perishable items and quality protein in the form of meat, it's hard to keep stockpiled," Valter said. "It's good locally grown pork. It's nice to be able to put that quality protein back on people's dinner tables."
JBS Senior Field Manager Andy Thomeczek said the company was happy to coordinate the donation with partners like Farm Bureau.
"We have had programs like this before, so really all we did was revive a program we had three or four years ago," Thomeczek said. "It's tied to farmers we have in the local area. They were all happy to help as well, and since we've done this, some of them are trying to figure out a way to do more on their own. When times are tough, people will help."
Food pantries report increased need, with St. Francis quadrupling its normal numbers one week, making the donation even more important for people in need.
"Thank you to the farmers that donate this to us," Redmond said. "Without it we would not be able to help our clients like we do."