Fill the Freezer logo

The Fill the Freezer logo.

NEW LEXINGTON – One pig at a time.

That’s the way the Community Foundation for Perry County means to eliminate hunger in the county. As part of its Fill the Freezer campaign, the Foundation’s Hunger Fund is asking people who buy hogs at the Perry County Fair swine livestock sale this weekend to consider donating the animals to the organization, so they can be turned into sausage and given to county food pantries.

“What we’re trying to do in the campaign is, when a buyer at the junior fair auction next Saturday purchases a hog and donates it to the Community Foundation, we’ve developed a partnership with local meat processors to handle the processing of the meat and the distribution to all of the food pantries throughout Perry County,” said Foundation member Tim Sword. “What needs to happen at the auction is when a buyer purchases one of the hogs they would donate it to the Fill the Freezer campaign, and we would take care of it from there.”

Last year, the Foundation itself simply bought eight pigs at the fair and donated the meat to the food pantries. This year it wants to build on that idea, and at least triple that number.

“With each pig, 40% of its weight will turn, net, into sausage,” explained Foundation member Julie Paxton. So, for a 250-pound animal, 100 pounds of sausage. She estimated that if the group makes its goal of 25 donated hogs, that will stock the county’s food pantry freezers for two to three months.

“We bought them last year, so this year we said, ‘How can we scale this?’” she recalled. “And we said, ‘OK, why don’t we find partners?’ — which is what we’ve done.”

An important set of partners are the area firms who have agreed to handle the processing – in some cases donating part of their work to the cause. These partners include Bay Packing, Phillips Meats, Lazy Acres Meats LLC, Pine Ridge Meat Processing and Shirer Meats.

Another partner crucial to making the project work, Paxton said, was Hocking Athens Perry Community Action’s (HAPCAP) Southeast Ohio Food Bank, “because they have the freezer capacity to store the meat.” From that food bank the sausage will be distributed to recipients like the Crooksville Community Center Food Bank, the Southeast Perry Food Pantry, the Thornville Food Pantry, the Hopewell/Madison Choice Pantry, Junction City, St. Vincent DePaul, New Lexington Food Pantry, Somerset Area Food Pantry, and the Southeastern Food Bank.

The Southeast Ohio Food Bank will largely handle distribution, Paxton said, though she added that “our goal is to have 4-H members also involved in unloading boxes and helping at the food bank, so it’s kind of a full-circle program.”

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