Iowa State University students and dozens of 4H and FFA members are part of a project to boost the amount of meat available through Iowa food banks and food pantries.

Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg says the state’s “Pass the Pork” and “Beef Up, Iowa” campaigns were launched to address the increased demand Iowa food banks have seen during the pandemic.

“We anticipate that when all is said and done that 100,000 pounds of ground pork will be delivered to Iowa food banks. That’s 400,000 servings. Well over 50,000 pounds of that has already been delivered, with more coming throughout the fall,” Gregg says.

“On the beef side, 14,500 pounds of ground beef have already distributed to the Iowa food banks. We believe when all is said and done, we will have processed 110 cattle, resulting in 55,000 pounds of ground beef, which is over 200,000 servings.”

Governor Reynolds authorized the use of federal coronavirus relief money to pay for the processing, which is being done at the Meat Lab at Iowa State University.

“It allows the students to gain a learning experience while also impacting their community in a positive way,” Gregg says. “The other thing to note about that is the cattle and the hogs that are being purchaxed and processed are livestock that were raised and shown by 4H and FFA kids that showed their livestock at the various scaled back county fairs and the State Fair this year, so that provided a market for their animals and also gave us a way to support youth in agriculture while also helping food insecure Iowans.”

Gregg is chair of the Feeding Iowans Task Force. Governor Reynolds created the task force in April after thousands of Iowans lost their jobs and food banks and food pantries in Iowa saw a 65 percent increase in applications for food assistance. The governor has approved $400,000 worth of grants to food banks in 51 counties for the purchase of refrigeration units. Gregg says this is helping food banks accept increased donations from Iowa’s egg industry.

“Typically the Iowa Egg Council and Iowa egg farmers donate 35,000 dozen eggs per month and during the pandemic they’ve increased that to 45,000 dozen eggs per month,” Gregg says. “That’s over half a million eggs per month.”

The governor also has approved the purchase of $100,000 worth of turkey for distribution to Iowa food banks. The turkey was processed at West Liberty Foods.