COLUMBIA - Smithfield Foods, an East Coast meat processing company, stopped at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri on Wednesday and donated 36,000 pounds of St. Louis-style ribs.
The stop was part of a year-long tour across the United States by representatives of Smithfield, which is based in Virginia.
"So many people think the hungry is just the guy or gal standing on the corner," Smithfield Foods Senior Director of Hunger Relief Dennis Pittman said, "when most likely the majority of the folks coming here are hard working people who can't quite make it some months."
Executive Director for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri Lindsay Lopez said that this donation will go a long way because meat is among the most difficult items for the bank to acquire.
"I wish I could tell you that we got ribs and other protein items donated more regularly," Lopez said. "The truth is that protein is difficult for us to acquire, it's expensive for us to acquire, so a day like today is tremendous."
Lopez said that the food bank is focusing on acquiring and distributing what they call "Foods to Encourage" as part of a nationwide program which, according to FeedingAmerica.org, "estimates the nutritional contributions of food categories in food banks’ inventories."
"We know that there is a direct correlation between people who don't have access to food, healthy food, on an ongoing basis and higher incidences of disease, obesity, and things like that," Lopez said.
The food bank will work with 140 partner agencies to distribute this food quickly around the community to those in need.
"One in every six adults and one in every five children in this community and in the 32 counties that we serve at the food bank struggle with access to food on an ongoing basis," Lopez said. "Donations like this are incredibly important for us to get healthy, nutritious food into the hands of people who need it."