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The Honolulu Advertiser

By Rex W. Huppke
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Posted on: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Needy families in Chicago get a porky assist

 • Better than delivery
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

"Protein is really hard to come by," said Kate Maehr, whose job is feeding the hungry.

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A rule of thumb for carnivorous journalists: ALWAYS attend events involving 44,000 pounds of pork products. At worst, bacon samples; at best, you might finally have a chance to use terms like "hamtastic" or "porksplosion."

With that in mind, a journey to the Greater Chicago Food Depository earlier this month showed a massive donation of ground pork, bacon and sausage being gratefully accepted. The Illinois Pork Producers Association, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Soybean Association an agricultural trifecta joined forces for a much-needed injection of protein into the state's food-pantry pipeline.

The pork association calls its philanthropic program Pork Power. Though ripe for journalistic snark, the event was more eye-opening than pork-pun inducing.

Kate Maehr, executive director of the cavernous South Side Chicago food depository, said more than 32,000 one-pound packages of ground pork and an accompanying 12,000 pounds of bacon and sausage donated by Farmland Foods would be swiftly shipped out to 652 food pantries, shelters and after-school programs in Cook County, Ill., and more than 1,000 other pantries statewide.

It will likely be gone within days, she said. "Protein is really hard to come by. A lot of families go weeks and sometimes months without meat. That's why this donation means so much."

Demand on food pantries continues to grow, Maehr said, yet donations are down, particularly after the holidays.

"Sometimes miracles happen," she said. "And this is one of them."