Ohio pig farmer and President-Elect of the Ohio Pork Council, Ryan McClure, (left) pictured with Linda Hamilton, CEO, West Ohio Food Bank (right) for donations of pork products earlier this year. Photo by Meghann Winters, Ohio Pork Council.

Farmers are responding to food banks in need

There have been numerous efforts of agriculture to provide food for those in need in the past and they are especially important right now. A recent donation from the Ohio Pork Council highlights these efforts. The OPC effort provided over 9,600 wholesome meals to those in need amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for Easter.

This year, as part of OPC’s annual Pork Power program, Ohio pig farmers donated over 2,400 Sugardale hams to benefit the West Ohio Food Bank, which serves community members in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert and Wyandot counties.

“For Ohio’s pig farmers, providing a safe, wholesome food supply is our livelihood — and giving back to community members is at the core of our values,” said Ohio Pork Council President-Elect Ryan McClure, a pig farmer from Paulding County.

During spring 2020, Ohio pig farmers provided over 9,600 meals to western Ohio families through OPC’s annual Pork Power program. Since the program’s inception, more than 1.6 million fresh, wholesome meals have been donated to local foodbanks in Ohio.

“Each year, the Ohio Pork Council strives to make a difference through our Pork Power program, and in light of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, this year’s contribution is especially important. We are hopeful that amidst these challenges, families in western Ohio can enjoy a nutritious Easter ham and time around the dinner table together,” McClure said.

The West Ohio Food Bank is the largest food distribution system in West Ohio — serving over 72,590 community members in need. The donated hams will be distributed to partner agencies and in food delivery boxes to those who are unable to leave their home.

Just before Easter, Ohio’s pig farmers donated over 2,400 Sugardale hams to benefit the West Ohio Food Bank, which serves residents in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert and Wyandot counties. The National Guard unloaded the hams in Lima. Photo by Meghann Winters, Ohio Pork Council.

“West Ohio Food Bank is proud to partner with the Ohio Pork Council and welcomes the opportunity to distribute the donated hams to our hungry neighbors in the communities we serve,” said Linda Hamilton, CEO, West Ohio Food Bank. “With so many new individuals in our food lines, who didn’t think they would ever need food assistance, we are grateful to the Ohio Pork Council for positively impacting so many individuals and families during this difficult and challenging time.”

Since Governor DeWine declared a State of Emergency on March 9, Ohio’s statewide hunger relief network has seen immense ramifications of this public health crisis on low- and moderate-income Ohioans. The 1.6 million Ohioans who already relied on Ohio’s food banks to put food on the table need more help now, and many of the nearly 200,000 or more workers displaced by the COVID-19 outbreak and their families need help for the first time.

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks has surveyed its members and compiled a report detailing the myriad challenges facing Ohio’s hunger relief network as it strives to respond to incredible demand for help with emergency food.

“Philanthropy has an important role to play now and going forward, and I encourage the philanthropic community to be as flexible and responsive as possible to help support our community and the challenges we face ahead,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “However, philanthropic donations cannot replace the critical role a strong and sustained response from the public sector provides. Our foodbanks have heightened needs right now and every contribution makes a difference.”

Since COVID-19 first started impacting Ohio, the association’s network of hunger relief providers has seen an enormous increase in demand statewide. Due to the increased need at all foodbanks around the state, the association is asking for more support from both the public and private sectors during this critical time of need, including immediate relief to help the network respond to short-term needs. Additionally, the network will need even more resources to meet the long-term needs to keep foodbank doors open for the millions of Ohioans that need help putting food on the table.

Ohioans and corporations looking to donate or volunteer, or seeking help with food, can visit ohiofoodbanks.org/coronavirus for more information.

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