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Donations from Ohio pig farmers help close the protein gap in the Toledo area

When it comes to providing free or low-cost meals to those in need in Northwest Ohio, sourcing high-quality protein is a constant struggle, as people there face a food insecurity rate of nearly 16% — far higher than the national rate of 13.5%. But thanks to Ohio's pig farmers' annual Pork Power program, nutrient-dense, sustainably raised pork is available to hundreds of guests at Toledo's SAME Café and the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank.

On behalf of the state's pork producers, the Ohio Pork Council (OPC) is once again partnering with SAME Café in Toledo and the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, community-based nonprofit organizations, to provide high-quality protein to those in need. For 2024, this means OPC has provided $3,000 worth of fresh pork or equivalent to each venue.

“A meat donation like this is indescribable,” said Courtney Schmidtke, executive chef at SAME Café. “High quality meat is vital for our guests as it provides them with the proteins, iron and B vitamins they need to stay healthy and happy. Since many of our guests do not have permanent housing, they need proteins like pork to give their bodies the energy they need to survive in whatever environment they spend the most time in.”

Giving back to the state's rural and urban communities has been an integral part of what Ohio's hog farmers do for years through OPC's Pork Power Initiative, which is an even greater lifeline during these difficult economic times.

“We are very grateful for this donation and for the ongoing relationship we have with the Ohio Pork Council,” said James Caldwell, president and CEO of the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank. “Having been a part of this organization for 30 years, I can tell you that partnering with our state’s farmers for donations like this makes a difference in our ability to help those in need throughout our eight-county area.”

Whether it's the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, which is celebrating its 40th year in this part of the state, or the SAME Café, which has only been in the city since 2022, both play a critical role in helping people to provide access to food and more suffering from food insecurity.

“For us as farmers, giving back to the diverse communities of our state is ingrained in our DNA,” says Nick Seger, president of the Ohio Pork Council and producer from Minster, Ohio. “Especially in times like these, when the need is even greater, we are honored to partner with unique organizations like SAME Café, who provide life-saving meals and critical training to those in need, and our long-standing partners like the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, that provides comprehensive nutritional support to many food pantries over a large area.”

As part of the implementation of the pork industry's “We Care” ethical principles, Ohio pig farmers remain focused on producing nutritious, high-quality protein for consumers every day, in a way that sustainably protects the state's environment. These core values ​​are highlighted and explained in more detail at www.ohpork.org.

Nick Seger (left), president of the Ohio Pork Council, presented a check for $3,000 in pork to the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank to purchase pork and distribute it to food pantries throughout the eight-county area. James Cardwell, president and CEO of the 40-year-old nonprofit organization that helps alleviate food insecurity as part of the national Feeding America network, accepted the donation.

Anna Harden

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