Food insecurity in rural areas is a major challenge only worsened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unemployment. But in Missouri, agricultural organizations and businesses have banded together to support rural families through this crisis. More than $100,000 has already been raised for the effort.
Missouri Pork Association Executive Vice President Don Nikodim says the Drive to Feed Kids stems from a partnership with Missouri Farmers Care.
“Missouri food banks tell us there’s like over one million food insecure people here in the state, so we’ve collectively put together an effort to address that need. Just recently, we’ve worked with area food banks and Central Missouri Meat Sausage to process a little over 100 hogs, which was about 10,500 lbs. of ground pork which will be distributed amongst the six Missouri food banks. It’s a great program and we’re proud to be part of it.”
The mission is twofold: while the backlogged pork processing plants continue their work, the partnership provides for hog producers without markets and helps meet increased protein demands on food banks.
“Protein is a major concern, it’s hard for food banks to get protein and so this program right here helps put protein on people’s table. So, we think the opportunity to do more is there. We’re going to continue to work as space comes available at processing plants on the local level to get more pork out to consumers.”
Pork is the number one customer of U.S. soybeans and both industries rely on a strong relationship. Nikodim says that relationship shines through the Drive to Feed Kids program, supported by the various Missouri commodity groups, including the Missouri Soybean Association.
“The folks we deal with on a daily basis, as ag commodity groups do, I mean this is their life. They live and breathe agriculture. It’s their job to put food on peoples table and they take that seriously. When we hear about the lack of protein that’s available for a lot of people that just don’t have the where with all to get it, our folks step up to the plate and they deliver. So, I think it’s just a good-natured thing to do for people in our business to produce food and make sure that people get it.”
Stay up to date with the latest information from the United Soybean Board Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. Eastern / 9 a.m. Central on RFD-TV, and to learn more, visit unitedsoybean.org.