Source: Fort Dodge Messenger
A frosty, dark, 15-degree morning might not sound like the ideal time for a festive gathering, but Iowa Select delivered plenty of holiday cheer — and free 5-pound pork loins — to residents of Lake City and nearby communities on December 10, thanks to Operation Christmas Meal from Iowa Select Farms and the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation.
“We believe in giving back, especially in the rural communities across the state that we call home,” said Jeff Hansen, CEO of Iowa Select Farms and co-founder of the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation. “Helping people is in the DNA of Iowa farmers. It’s just what we do.”
Operation Christmas Meal is a free pork loin giveaway for families who aren’t planning a Christmas meal due to insufficient funds. Free pork loins distributed during Operational Christmas Meal events are also available to anyone in the community who would like the pork.
This year, Operation Christmas Meal donated 17,000 boneless pork loins roasts–a 45 percent increase from 2017. Operation Christmas Meal kicked off on November 30 at 5 a.m. at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and ended on the evening of December 10 in Pocahontas at the Iowa Select Farms warehouse.
Over the course of five days, the Operation Christmas Meal team, which included Iowa Select employees, traveled to Iowa Falls, Webster City, Clarion, Mount Ayr, Afton, Humeston, Hampton, Riceville, Osage, Sac City, Lake City and Pocahontas.
Kristi Jacobs stopped by the Operation Christmas Meal distribution point at the Lake City Country Club to get pork loins for the food bank at the Lake City Union Church.
“We saw a 20 percent increase in demand for our food boxes just in the past month,” said Jacobs of Lake City, as Christmas songs filled the frosty air and costumed characters, including Mrs. Claus and a lively Christmas tree, waved and greeted guests picking up pork loins. “It’s great to have healthy food to share with people in need, especially during the holidays.”
Lending a helping hand
Now in its eighth year, Operation Christmas Meal has provided more than 514,000 Christmas meals to Iowa families. The event has become a holiday tradition for the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation, with hundreds of Iowa Select Farms employees and others volunteering to hand out the pork loins year after year.
“Iowa is the number-one pork-producing state in the country,” said Julie Kenney, Iowa’s Deputy Secretary of Agriculture who grew up on a farm near Lohrville and helped pass out pork loins in Lake City. “It’s inspiring to see the many ways Iowa’s farmers give back to their communities throughout the year. Thanks to the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation and Iowa Select employees for supporting Operation Christmas Meal.”
As the largest pork producer in Iowa, Iowa Select Farms produces more than 1 billion pounds of pork each year. With 800 swine farms across the state, Iowa Select Farms is one of the leading economic engines to Iowa’s rural communities, employing more than 1,200 people, contracting with more than 650 farmers and supporting hundreds of local businesses throughout the state.
“We’re proud to be a homegrown Iowa company working in the heart of Iowa communities,” said Hansen, whose family’s foundation has worked with philanthropic organizations since 2006 to relieve hunger, support military families and strengthen efforts to find a cure for childhood cancer while improving cancer patients’ quality of life. “Operation Christmas Meal is just one way for us to give our fellow Iowans a helping hand.”