Pig Farmers Rally for Pork Power Program
As an Illinois pork producer, I’m dedicated to providing the highest quality protein to people who consume pork. However, the work that I do each day on my farm and in my home extends into my community. That is why I am so passionate about the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), an agricultural trade association representing more than 1,600 Illinois pork producers, and its Pork Power program.
Pork Power was established in 2008 by several farmers who wanted to donate Illinois-raised pork to neighbors in need. As it evolved, more farmers got involved and now there are two ways that producers can participate. They can either choose to donate their pigs directly to a participating processor or they can donate the cash value of any pigs sold at market locations. Either way is a wonderful option.
Anyone can get involved with the Pork Power program, even if you don’t raise pigs. IPPA designs a Pork Power t-shirt each year which can be purchased at the Illinois State Fair or on IPPA’s website. All proceeds from shirt sales go towards purchasing pork to donate to Illinois food banks through the Pork Power program.
In 2022, the Pork Power Program reached a monumental goal. Through generous donations from pig farmers, various sponsors, and the sales of the Pork Power t-shirts, the IPPA donated over 1 MILLION pounds of pork to local food banks. That’s over 3.3 million servings of pork to families in need throughout the state of Illinois!
As soon as we realized that reaching our goal of donating a total of a million pounds of pork was attainable, we reached out to two local food banks, Central Illinois Food Bank and Midwest Food Bank, so that we could have producers, staff, and partners on hand during the final donations. It was surreal to see how much food each food bank holds and distributes. We were also reminded that healthy proteins, like ground pork, are one of the most requested food items yet account for a very small percentage of items donated. Knowing pork plays a role in a balanced diet and is a versatile, healthy, high protein food that helps keep individuals full longer, it made us all feel really good to donate and be part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
In early December, IPPA President Elect Chad Leman attended the Pork Power donation at Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington-Normal. He was joined by the director of the IL Corn Marketing Board, who is a farmer, as well as staff members from IPPA and farmer-led organizations Illinois Soybean Association and IL Corn. During that event alone, over 11,000 pounds of ground pork that had been processed by Steindinger Foods was donated to the Midwest Food Bank.
A few days after that incredible donation, I was joined by IPPA staff and board members, along with staff from the Illinois Soybean Association, at the Central Illinois Food Bank in Springfield. It was there that we made the final donation (8,900 pounds of ground pork that had been processed by Turasky Meats), that caused us to reach—and exceed—our million-pound goal.
We ended 2022 with a total amount of 1,018,696 pounds of pork donated to local food banks since the inception of the Pork Power program in 2008. I can’t imagine that any of the pork producers who helped start this phenomenal program could have ever imagined how successful it would end up being.
I was fortunate to be serving as IPPA board president when we exceeded our goal and it was humbling to see how committed Illinois pig farmers are to providing food to those in need while expanding the reach of pork, a healthy source of protein. Reaching our goal was an amazing achievement, but we aren’t stopping there. We know that hunger never takes a vacation, and it’s our goal as Illinois pig farmers to continue donating to the Pork Power program, as it ensures that we are doing our part in making sure that no one has to worry about where their next meal will come from.