Meat destined for destruction diverted to the needy in ‘Pass the Pork’ promotion

Iowa farmers face the prospect of euthanizing hogs that cannot be sent to packing plants that are closed because scores of workers have tested positive for Covid-19. Michelle Book, CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa, says there’s a way to save some of the meat that would otherwise be destroyed.

“We are working with the Iowa Pork Producers on a project called ‘Pass the Pork,'” she says, “…to get pork moved along to the food banks across the state of Iowa.”

On May 1st, Iowa farmers may begin donating their ready-for-market hogs. Local meat lockers are extending their hours of operation to process the animals. The Iowa Food Bank Association is accepting donations to cover the costs of processing, storing and delivering the pork to food banks and food pantries. Iowa State University ag economist Chad Hart says the temporary pork plant closures have created a real pinch point.

“We’ve got good supplies on one end. We’ve got good demand on the other, but you have to pass through the processing plants,” Hart says. “And with roughly we figure 30% of our processing capacity sort of off-line right now, that is creating a problem where we have too many hogs for too little processing capacity.”

Hart and Book made their comments during this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa PBS.