Communities in Louisiana are still suffering from the destruction brought on by Hurricane Laura, one of the most powerful storms to ever strike the coast of the Gulf of Mexico with top wind speeds of over 150 mph. The storm’s aftermath is undeniably gut-wrenching.
Leaders in the pork industry are intent on making sure people get food and know they are cared about.
Thanks to a partnership between the Louisiana Pork Producers Association, JBS Pork, Smithfield Foods Inc., and McNeese State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, more than 10,000 servings of pork were delivered through hot meals from Sept. 2 through Sept. 9 to southwest Louisiana residents affected by the hurricane.
“We have people that are just coming back into the city – back to their homes devastated with no roof, no walls,” says Chip LeMieux, executive director of the Louisiana Pork Producers Association and dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at McNeese State University. “They see us handing out food and they're just so appreciative of what we're doing. It brings them to tears just to think that people here care about them and are spending time to prepare a meal and give it to them.”
Chip LeMieux prepares to hand out sandwiches to hurricane victims.
Last Thursday, students and alumni prepared 900 smoked pork sausage dogs donated by Smithfield in a mobile kitchen provided by the National Pork Board. They prepared another 900 smoked sausage dogs on Friday, as well as pork loin sandwiches Friday through Wednesday that were donated by JBS USA.
“We still don't have any power or water that we can drink,” LeMieux says. “So, it's been a blessing to have these folks down here, helping out.”
Pork Checkoff staff brought down the mobile kitchen and have been helping cook meals and provide support to the community. In addition, McNeese students and alumni have also been helping prepare and distribute meals.
“Guided by our We Care ethical principles, pig farmers believe strongly in giving back to their communities,” says Butch Racca, president of the Louisiana Pork Producers Association. “Louisiana pig farmers are proud to provide a hot meal to their neighbors while they work to recover from Hurricane Laura.”
Racca lost of all his barns in the hurricane, but fortunately, none of his sows were harmed. He’s been able to put up some makeshift shade over the pigs and provide them water from their well. Although everyone’s situation is different, LeMieux hopes people walk away knowing the pork industry cares about them.
“I think this is probably one of the most important things that can be done – to really demonstrate the producers in our country care about the people in their communities,” LeMieux says. “I think this message is strong when people come by and pick up a sandwich or a smoked sausage, and they ask what they can do to give back to the pork industry, to our pork producers. There's nothing more important than being able to provide this mobile kitchen for these type of events.”
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