Attention pork producers. You may find yourself challenged in the coming weeks. For the fourth year, the National Pork Producers Council's Give-A-Ham challenge is underway. NPPC President Jen Sorenson was on hand at the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines to donate the first ham for the program.
The national challenge kicked officially Nov. 1 and will run through the end of 2021. "Last year producers donated more than 220 million servings of pork through these donations," Sorenson says.
She was joined at the event by Michelle Book, president and CEO, Food Bank of Iowa. Meat is an expensive commodity at any local food shelf, and this program aims to help alleviate the expense.
Sorenson explains that there's a lot of camaraderie in the industry "but we're a competitive and giving group too," she says. "We rally around our commitment to support our communities and we feel strongly about that as pork producers."
Powered by the #GiveAHam hashtag on social media, the program encourages groups and individuals to challenge each other to donate a ham, pork loin, ground pork or other pork product to the local food pantry, school food pantries or any outlet that helps families with food security.
"You challenge someone else and that's how it works," Sorenson says. "People are going on Facebook to challenge. That's how we quickly get the word around. It's the magic of social media."
Speaking of challenging, during the Des Moines event Sorenson dropped a few big names in her personal challenge for the program. "I challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds, Dennis Liljedahl president of Iowa Pork Producer, Gene Noem president of the National Pork Board and I challenged my NPPC president elect Terry Walters," she says. "My hope is they will accept the challenge and donate."
She says she hopes other pork producers will join the effort and challenge their friends and colleagues to donate. Readers might find themselves tagged on Twitter, Facebook or other platform along with the #GiveAHam hashtag. And if you want to challenge someone be sure to use the that hashtag in your post too.
Sorenson adds that using social media in this way also continues that effort by farmers to share their stories. "They're proactively telling their stories, farmers are a humble group and they give back because it's the right thing to do," she says. "Social media helped us be more present and be able to share the commitments that we have with the consuming public."
The Food Bank of Iowa serves 677 partner agencies across 55 Iowa counties. You can learn more at foodbankiowa.org.