A semi truck is parked in Kalona this week, a tiny community about fifteen miles southwest of Iowa City. Members of the Mennonite faith will spend today (Thursday) and tomorrow canning meat to send to needy people around the world, working in Floyd Helmuth’s farm implement shop.
They’re starting at five in the morning and will go into the evening when the last can comes off the line. The tin cans hold a pound or two each and they plan to can about 19-thousand pounds of meat this year. The meat is turkey, provided by producers in North Liberty. The equipment is a portable canning unit hauled from town to town as communities across the country take part in the project.
The food will be sent to third-world countries, and in the past the Mennonite Central Committee has sent it to Ghana in Africa, to Haiti and to Bosnia. “It really goes all over the world,” Helmuth says. The idea began during World War Two when members of the Mennonite faith saw the growing numbers of needy and hungry people. This is the eighth year Iowans have taken part.
The portable canner’s like a semi trailer, pulled by a truck tractor. All the equipment is inside to do the canning, so the volunteers will work in Helmuth’s shop grinding the meat and a U.S.D.A. inspector will be on hand to oversee the work, at five in the morning.
“I tell you,” Helmuth says, “we do it as Christian people to help other people throughout the world that are less fortunate than what we are. Feel like we have been given the gifts that we have, and even the finances that we have, to share with other people. So, instead of just taking it all for ourselves, we feel like this is one way that we can help. I realize, you know, that it makes a very small dent in world hunger, but we feel like we can do something. So we’re doing something.”
This is one of 33 locations in eleven states, plus some stops in Canada, for the portable canner which travels the road from October through May.
Related web sites:
Mennonite Canning Project