Putting pork on their fork: Inn of the Good Shepherd part of pilot project
Ontario’s pork producers are giving a helping hand to people using the province’s food banks.
A group of farmers has put together a donation program which buys lean ground pork and distributes it to food banks.
Lyle Hendricx, a producer from Strathroy, was at the Inn of the Good Shepherd recently to help announce the program. He says in the past farmers would donate by taking a pig to the local abattoirs and then getting it to the food bank. That worked for a while, but Hendricx says not as many farmers are doing that now.
So Hendricx and several other farmers came up with a new way to put pork on the fork of people using the food bank.
Hendricx says the Ontario Pork Council put up $10,000 in seed money and then individual producers were approached to add to the pot. The volunteer group then went to the processor in Kitchener to see how much meat could be purchased with the $20,000.
“With products like sausages and hamburger, these are products people can use,” says Hendricx. “We’re going to put recipes with it, so they know what to do with it.” Mary Anne Hendricx adds the recipes will contain items commonly found on food bank shelves.
Food banks across southwestern Ontario were receiving skids of the lean ground pork last week. Vanni says the meat received in Sarnia will be enough to provide at least one package for every family using the food banks across Sarnia Lambton – about 1,800 families a month.
“As individuals we can’t make that kind of difference but working together we can,” says Lyle Hendricx.
“This way it is not falling on an individual producer. Everyone can contribute to the cost of processing,” says Vanni.
“This will have a huge impact for the food bank,” says Vanni. “It is always a struggle to get protein. We get shelf items – milk and eggs we get – but protein is always a struggle.”
Hendricx is hopeful this pilot project will become permanent. The Ontario Pork Congress is meeting in Stratford this week and will discuss a larger financial commitment to the program.
Mary Ann Hendricx would like to see $400,000 dedicated to the program.
Vanni says the commitment of the pork producers is exciting but probably should not be that surprising. “Nobody knows better than a farmer how important good food is,” says Vanni. “They’ve dedicated the passion of their life to producing it and they know even though people are struggling they still need good, healthy food.”
– Heather Wright