SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – The state’s pork producers are making sure military families don’t go hungry this holiday season.

The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and the state’s Department of Agriculture donated hams to the Illinois National Guard taking part in the Give-A-Ham Challenge as part of  “Hams for Heroes.”

“This is just a small token of Illinois pork’s appreciation to the men and women who serve the military,” Thomas Titus, the president of the IPPA, said. 

Jerry Costello, the director of the Department of Agriculture, thanked the IPPA for participating in the challenge and service members.

“As a veteran myself of the 82nd Airborne US Army First Gulf War, I would first like to thank all of those who currently serve and have served our country on this day of giving.” Costello said. “You’re the ones that give us our freedom.”

Michael Legler, the state family programs director for the Illinois Army National Guard said the hams will be a big help for people struggling financially.

“Especially now in these times, with higher rates of inflation and everything else, a lot of our younger service members are feeling a little pinched financially,” Legler said. “Anytime that we can do something to take that pressure off of them, even in the smallest ways, always helps.”

The hams will go to 180 families and to military families across the state.