DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today the recipients of the 2021 Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Awards, which are given to people and organizations that make exceptional contributions to the state’s agriculture community. This year’s honorees include the Iowa Food Bank Association and the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory for their extraordinary efforts to help livestock producers overcome supply chain disruptions and feed hungry Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ISU Meats Lab, the Iowa Food Bank Association and its six regional food banks, played vital roles in the state’s food security initiatives, including Pass the Pork, Beef Up Iowa and Turkey to Table. These programs were developed by the Governor’s Feeding Iowans Task Force in 2020, in part, to help livestock producers market their protein when the COVID-19 pandemic reduced meat processing capacity at the state’s large processing facilities. The programs strengthened the local food chain by connecting Iowa pork, beef and turkey producers with the Iowa Food Bank Association who served the donated meals to Iowans in need.
“Our partners at the ISU Meats Lab and Iowa Food Bank Association embody the spirit of the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award. When times got tough, these groups found creative solutions to help livestock producers and food insecure Iowans who were going through a very difficult time,” said Secretary Naig. “I am pleased to be able to acknowledge and thank them for their hard work and contributions to the Feeding Iowans food security programs.”
Iowa State University Meats Laboratory – Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for Leadership in Collaboration
The Iowa State University Meats Lab received the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for Leadership in Collaboration. When the COVID-19 pandemic limited the state’s meat processing capacity, the ISU Meats Lab re-opened its doors and started processing Iowa-grown pork and beef from local producers. These actions provided needed relief for producers who were struggling to market their livestock and gave the ISU Meats Science students invaluable hands- on experience and training.
“Iowa State University serves Iowans. We provide world-class teaching and training in animal and meat science,” said Dr. Dan Thomson, chair of the Iowa State University Department of Animal Science. “While many times our teaching focus is on science with practice, this project allowed us to teach our students meat science while serving humanity. It connected us with the beef and pork industries on a daily basis and it connected us to the food pantries that work so hard to help those in need. We have the facilities, the people and we care. It was a highlight of our year.”
Iowa Food Bank Association – Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for Leadership in Community
The Iowa Food Bank Association and its regional partners — Food Bank of Siouxland, Food Bank for the Heartland, Food Bank of Iowa, Northeast Iowa Food Bank, HACAP Food Reservoir and River Bend Foodbank — received the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for Leadership in Community. During a period of unprecedented food insecurity, the Iowa Food Bank Association worked alongside the Governor’s Feeding Iowan’s Task Force, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, ISU Meats Laboratory and producer-led agriculture groups to deliver pork, beef, turkey, dairy and eggs to its regional food banks.
“On behalf of the Feeding America food banks serving Iowans, our deepest appreciation goes to all who have made the Pass the Pork, Beef Up Iowa and Turkey to Table programs a reality,” said Linda Gorkow, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. “These innovative initiatives are making an impact to ensure essential protein is available to thousands of Iowans in need of food assistance. The pandemic resulted in double-digit increases in the number of Iowans in need of food. The Pass the Pork, Beef Up Iowa and Turkey to Table programs exemplify the strong spirit, caring hearts and hard work of Iowans helping to nourish one another during a time of crisis due to the pandemic.”
To date, the ISU Meats Lab has processed 201,201 pounds of ground beef and pork for the Governor’s Feeding Iowans programs, which provides 804,804 servings of Iowa-grown protein for the Iowa Food Bank Association.
A photo and video of Secretary Naig presenting the 2021 Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award to the ISU Meats Lab are available at iowaagriculture.gov/news/2021-iowa-ag-leader-award-winners. Secretary Naig will present the Iowa Ag Leader Award to the Iowa Food Bank Association on Tuesday, March 23. A photo and video will be available on Wednesday, March 24.