Leaders from Iowa introduced the state's "Pass the Pork" program last week, which will connect Iowa pig farmers with food insecure Iowans.

The program, an initiative of the Feeding Iowans Task Force, was announced by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Mike Naig, Iowa's secretary of agriculture and the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). "Pass the Pork" will help pig farmers in the state donate pigs to food banks and feeding programs.

According to the press release announcing the program, local meat processors are extending their hours of operation to process and package the pork donations to help meet the growing demand for food bank and food pantry resources.

"'Pass the Pork' is an innovative partnership to put Iowa pork on the tables of families in need of food security while creating a new destination for pork which might otherwise go to waste," said Reynolds. "I’m grateful to Iowa’s pork producers, processors and others for stepping up to make this possible.”

The program will begin on when the first donated pigs are delivered on May 1, according to the press release, and processing will continue in May and for as long as processing capacity and funds remain.

“At a time when Iowa pig farmers face market challenges and supply chain disruptions, they continue to look for opportunities to help those in need,” said Naig. “We are proud to partner with Iowa pig farmers, food banks, and meat processors to ensure all Iowans have access to a locally produced, high-quality protein source.”

The animals for the program are being donated by Iowa pig farmers, but there are costs associated with the processing, storage and delivery of the pork to food banks and pantries. People can contribute to the Iowa Food Bank Association to help cover these costs and future purchases of Iowa-produced pork for food bank programs.

To donate funds to the program, visit the Iowa Food Bank Association website at donorbox.org/passthepork.

Iowa pig farmers and meat processors who are interested in participating in the program should contact the Iowa Pork Producers Association at (515) 225-7675.

Calmar farm participates in fundraiser to donate to Decorah pantry

In another effort to help match excess supply on farms with unmet demand from food banks, the nonprofit A Greener World (AGW) has launched a nationwide, community-based fundraiser that features Driftless Hills Farm of Calmar, Iowa, to help feed locals at the Decorah Community Food Pantry.

AGW initiated the fundraiser so that certified farms can coordinate donations to support food delivery to area nonprofits serving community needs.

Driftless Hills Farm will be able to provide 70 pounds of pork to help feed those who come to the Decorah Community Food Pantry, a non-profit charity serving thousands of clients who need food and other basic essentials during the pandemic. The pantry has committed to staying open through the coronavirus pandemic to provide curbside grocery pick-up for people in need. They work with over a hundred volunteers and represent more than 20 local faith-based organizations.

"While our traditional supply chains are very efficient, they can also be unwieldy -- and when they stop, they stop hard, putting a lot of volume on hold," said Andrew Gunther, AGW executive director. "Many of the supply chains we're working with are shorter and more nimble, allowing them to be more responsive to changing needs."