It’s time to celebrate community.
On Tuesday, March 23, the Waterloo community was the focus of a “Thank You” celebration from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, as well as from Iowa pig farmers. It was a fitting way to celebrate National Ag Day, and a day of service from area farmers.
At a morning event, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented the Ag Leader Award for Leadership in Community to the Iowa Food Bank Association (IFBA), which is headquartered in Waterloo. IFBA represents the six food banks operating across Iowa; they were integral in distributing the meat donations from the Pass the Pork and Beef Up Iowa programs. Both programs were developed to help distribute protein to Iowans impacted by work reduction and job losses caused by COVID-19.
Iowa pig farmers said thank you to the Waterloo community for its support of all those involved in pork production. “Lifting spirits on challenging days and providing inspiration to help others clear the hurdles in front of them are ways you have touched our hearts,” local pork producer Trish Cook said. Cook and her husband Aaron farm near Winthrop. “The way you make people feel matters. And the Waterloo community showed up to support plant workers and pig farmers. Thank you.”
As part of their “Thank You” celebration, the Iowa pork producers donated $1000 to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank as it continues its work to alleviate hunger. The pork producers also provided pork coupons at local Fareway and Hy-Vee stores for consumers to use, and pork thank-you baskets to local first responders.
The day wrapped up with a giveaway of more than 1,300 5-pound pork loins to Waterloo-area residents. That giveaway equals more than 25,000 meals or servings of pork. This took place in a drive-through event at the National Cattle Congress grounds. The pork loins were made available through the assistance of Tyson Foods.
Rick Petersen, plant manager at Tyson Foods in Waterloo, said Tyson was joining in saying “thank you” to the independent pig farmers in appreciation for their dedication to raising high-quality livestock to meet customer and consumer fresh meats demand. He expressed Tyson’s appreciation for the many opportunities it has with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank to join in the efforts which support the company’s commitment to hunger relief.
The past 12 months have reminded us about the importance of community when times are challenging and uncertain. Uncertainty and challenges are still ahead. “It matters that we all work together in keeping people safe as our work continues to feed your families, neighbors, and others,” Cook said.