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With food insecurity on the rise due to unemployment surrounding COVID-19 precautions, local food banks are seeing a spike in activity. Along with Farmers Union Enterprises (FUE), Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) is working to address the need for high-quality protein in west central Wisconsin.

On May 8, WFU and FUE donated 30,000 pounds of pork ribs to Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire. The pork ribs are from Redwood Farms, one of the entities in the family of businesses owned by FUE. Redwood Farms supplies premium pork products to high-end restaurants in New York, Chicago and other cities across the U.S. With many restaurants closed due to COVID-19, Redwood Farms saw a sharp decline in demand.

“Donating pork to Feed My People is a win all-around,” said WFU President Darin Von Ruden. “People in need of food assistance will be able to get delicious pork, and Redwoods Farms is able to continue moving product and processing meat from family farmers.”

“Because of COVID-19, many families have seen their grocery budget shrink. We saw a way to help not only feed families, but keep our employees working,” explained FUE President Doug Sombke, who also leads South Dakota Farmers Union.

The Redwood Farms processing facility, located in Estherville, Iowa, is a unique processing facility that is focused on providing farmers the best market pricing for off-spec hogs and on producing the highest quality pork for customers. It is one of several businesses that make up Farmers Union Enterprises, which in turn helps fund Farmers Union organizations in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Wisconsin as well as some National Farmers Union and FUE programming.

In all, FUE plans to donate 150,000 pounds of pork ribs to pantries in the five states it supports.

“Farmers Union is all about working together to meet our common needs,” Von Ruden said. “We’re glad to be able to partner with Feed My People to get these products out to those who need it most in these difficult times.”

“There couldn’t be a better time to receive such a generous supply of pork,” said Emily Moore, executive director of Feed My People. “We and our 200 program partners are grateful to be able to offer families throughout west central Wisconsin such highly desired protein at a time when food insecurity is so prevalent.”

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