FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A northeastern Indiana nonprofit organization that provides meat to food banks is seeking the public’s help because some processing plants have been shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry in Garrett has an abundance of pigs sent to it from farmers because the meat processing plants it partners with are either closed or slowed down production due to the virus outbreak.
The nonprofit received 28,000 pigs in donations, said Deb Treesh, the group’s executive director.
“If we don’t (process them), these animals are going to go in the dumps,” she told The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit expects at minimum an additional 500 pigs weekly moving forward. The group said processing one pig costs $200. The organization is encouraging people to donate via its website or send a check or a money order to help offset processing costs.
Tyson Foods shuttered its pork plant in Logansport for nearly two weeks after hundreds of workers tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
In Orland, Miller Poultry said 136 of its nearly 800 employees tested positive for the virus last week, noting that those numbers are low compared to other plants nationwide.
“This shows that the many preventative measures that were put in place weeks ago along with the additional (personal protective equipment) are working,” the company said in statement.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told governors in a letter that meat and poultry processors are “critical industries” that need to stay open.
“It is essential that we work together to ensure the health and safety of those who help keep food on the table during this unprecedented time,” he wrote.