CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — It’s that time of year when Illinois specialty farms – those that produce high-quality meats and healthy fruits and vegetables – begin to contribute food to the needy.
Illinois Pork Producers Association next Tuesday will deliver 500 hams to the Central Illinois Foodbank at Springfield as part of the Pork Power Program. That program contributes 100,000 pounds of pork to food banks throughout Illinois. The program has generated over 9 million pounds of pork to food banks since 1982.
Another initiative is the Farm to Food Bank Program of Illinois Specialty Growers, which delivers hundreds of different fruits and vegetables to food banks.
“It’s so exciting for specialty crops here in Illinois because we have amazing soil,” said Raghela Scavuzzo of the Illinois Farm Bureau. “We can grow just about anything except citrus, bananas, and avocados, and we have growers growing just about all of that. We have over 3600 farms across the state growing about $500 million worth of produce and it’s a wide range of products.
Most of that is sold on the farm or at farmers markets, but a large volume goes to local food banks for the needy.
Scavuzzo said this increases profitability for farms and increases food access for the community. She hopes this will become a statewide program that, right now, doesn’t require legislation.
“Right now, we are just working on support and getting farms in it and food banks taking the products,” Scavuzzo said. “We ran the first pilot this year and we moved almost a half million pounds of food into food banks from our farms directly, so you will see this project over the next several months looking forward. And you can find out more at feedingillinois.org and you can see about the Farmers Food Bank program and how you can get involved.”