Second Harvest Heartland receives 3rd pork donation

University of Minnesota’s Meat Science Lab has processed about 100 donated pigs into more than 12,000 pounds of ground pork.


Paula Mohr, The Farmer

Jun 24, 2020


An invaluable collaboration has risen from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic among Minnesota pig farmers, the University of Minnesota’s Meat Science Laboratory and a Twin Cities-based food bank.


The Minnesota Pork Board and U-M’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences’ Meat Science Laboratory have worked together to provide more than 12,000 pounds of ground pork for Second Harvest Heartland. The food bank has been overwhelmed with requests for food donations across the state and in western Wisconsin.


Normally, the food bank assists a half-million clients. However, with the pandemic as well as the need for food in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, food donation requests have markedly increased.


The latest food donation happened June 15 when Second Harvest picked up a load of frozen 1-pound packages of ground pork.


U-M meat science associate professor Ryan Cox says faculty and staff have been volunteering their time to cut and process pigs donated by farmers. The lab and campus meat store have been closed to the public due to the pandemic.


“Those of us in animal science wanted to help,” he says. “It’s neat that the university is being a facilitator in this.”


So far, the meat lab volunteers have processed around 100 pigs donated by farmers.


Just minutes prior to loading the Second Harvest truck, the next live pig donation arrived. Mike and Rebekah Patterson, Kenyon, brought 15 pigs — their fourth load since the pandemic hit — to the campus lab for processing. The pigs averaged around 380 pounds each, a bit heavier than their usual market weight of 280 to 290 pounds...


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