State farmers donate pork and dairy products to Minnesota food shelves
SAINT PAUL, MN, October 30, 2009 – Minnesota Farmers Helping Families, a coalition of state agriculture commodity groups, announced today a donation of more than $115,000 in pork and dairy products to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a comprehensive hunger relief organization.
At a news conference hosted by Governor Tim Pawlenty at the state capitol, representatives from the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Minnesota Pork Board and Minnesota Milk Producers Association announced the donation of approximately 85,000 lbs of pork and more than 36,000 pounds of cheese.
"Minnesota farmers are known for their willingness to help neighbors in times of need,” Governor Pawlenty said. “It’s heartwarming to see the agricultural community lending a hand, even as it faces its own economic challenges."
In 2008, there were 2 million visits and 47 million pounds of food distributed at Minnesota’s 300 food shelves. There has been an 89 percent increase in food shelf visits since 2000. Minnesota food shelves have also seen a surge in demand this year. There were 328,468 unique visitors to food shelves in the first six months of the year.
“While these are tough times for Minnesota farmers, the economic slowdown has affected many across our state and there are far too many who are in need of basic necessities,” said Jim Merritt Minnesota Pork Board director and a pork producer from Elbow Lake, Minn. “We care about our communities across the state and want to help.”
In the past two years, high feed costs, the downward spiral of the economy, and now, the fallout from H1N1influenza, have translated to a 5 billion dollar loss for the pork industry. About 200 of the state’s dairy farms have closed in the past year as the worldwide economic crisis has resulted in record low prices and a sharp drop in demand.
"All of us owe our gratitude to farmers for providing abundant, high-quality food year in and year out,” Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson said. “This generous contribution is another reminder of the vital role agriculture plays for each and every one of us."
“This donation is funded with Minnesota soybean, pork and dairy farmer dollars, and we are proud to play a role in combating hunger across this state with a donation of healthy and nutritious pork and dairy products,” said Pat Lunemann of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and a dairy producer from Clarissa, Minn.
“We’re pleased that Minnesota Farmers are working to help combat hunger,” said Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota. “As Minnesota families are increasingly struggling to make ends meet, programs such as this are vitally important.”
This donation will assist thousands of families at risk for hunger throughout Minnesota. The high quality and nutritious food will be delivered to six Feeding America Foodbanks that will then distribute to local food shelves for distribution to low income residents.
“Minnesota farmers will continue to do our part to grow healthy, safe and nutritious food to feed people around our state and the globe,” said Barb Overlie of the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and a soybean producer from Lake Crystal, Minn. “Now we are challenging other Minnesotans to help those in need by donating even more pork and dairy products.” Overlie explained those interested in helping can go to www.MNfarmershelpingfamilies.com.