SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Thanks to Illinois pig, corn and soybean farmers, many food banks throughout Illinois have some much needed protein to share with those in need this holiday season.

The Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Soybean Association Checkoff Program will donate more than 65,000 pounds of ground pork to the eight regional food banks associated with Feeding Illinois, as well as the MidWest Foodbank in Bloomington, as part of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign.

This donation will provide more than 565,000 servings of pork to families throughout Illinois. The donations are being made throughout November and December.

Food banks receiving the ground pork are: Greater Chicago Food Depository in Chicago; Northern Illinois Food Bank in St. Charles; Peoria Area Food Bank in Peoria; River Bend Foodbank in Davenport, Iowa; Central Illinois Foodbank in Springfield; Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Urbana; St. Louis Area Foodbank in St. Louis; Tri-State Foodbank in Evansville, Ind.; and Midwest Foodbank in Bloomington.

The donated pork was provided through checkoff funds of the pork, corn and soybean groups, as well as cash donations from pig farmers and consumers. Bids were received from local meat processors associated with the Illinois Association of Meat Processors.

The ground pork was sourced from five Illinois meat processors: YT Packing, Springfield; Eickman’s Processing, Seward; Raber Packing, Peoria; Thrushwood Farms Quality Meats, Galesburg; and Steindinger Foods, Fairbury.

In 2008, IPPA launched Pork Power with the goal of helping fight hunger in Illinois. It provides a system for farmers to donate pork to food banks associated with Feeding Illinois.

IPPA has partnered with the ICMB, ISA and IAMP in this effort. Since its inception, Pork Power has generated more than 565,000 pounds of pork — enough for nearly 2.3 million meals — for families throughout Illinois.

The Pork Power program also is an opportunity to promote pork as families are educated on how to prepare and incorporate pork into their favorite dishes. Families receive information on the important nutritional, mental and physical benefits of including protein in the diet.

“Pork producers are committed to helping their neighbors throughout the state who are having difficulty feeding their families,” said IPPA president Bob Frase, a pig farmer from Fairbury.

“This type of project is a winning situation for everyone involved, not just the Corn Marketing Board or pork producers, but most importantly, our neighbors throughout Illinois will receive protein which is vital to everyone’s nutritional needs,” said Larry Hasheider, a corn farmer from Okawville and member of the corn marketing board.

“Pork Power demonstrates how Illinois farmers work together to help feed our communities, which is important to all of us,” said Jenny Mennenga, a farmer from Le Roy and an ISA board member.

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