Elisabeth Kvernen

Photo of participants during the August 2016 Serving and Learning Together (SALT) and International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) orientation held in Akron, PA. SALTers Jennifer Kaufman (back) and Tiffany Wieler (front) inspect and pack MCC canned meat during a visit to the Ephrata Material Resources Center.

Each year, over 30,000 people give their time and energy to fill, weigh, wash and label every can of turkey, beef, chicken or pork that is processed in the MCC Mobile Meat Canner. The vast majority of the meat is shipped overseas to MCC partners, providing important nutrients when meat is hard to purchase. However, 10% of meat canned in the Central States region can be distributed to local organizations.

In 2016, MCC Central States locally distributed over 4,000 cans of meat to various organizations in the region.  This puts the region at just under the 10% local distribution rate.

Warehouse Manager Duane Unruh said, “We can distribute quite a bit of meat locally, and we’re here to share locally as well as globally. Some organizations distribute the cans to individuals, and some use the meat to cook meals for homeless shelters or soup kitchens.”

One such organization is Cross-Lines in Kansas City, Kan. a partner organization of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City. Since 1968, Rainbow Mennonite has been in charge of the Grocery Store portion of Cross-Lines’ Christmas Store. A store that is open for one week at the beginning of December to low-income customers who qualify through a registration process. Annually, more than 500 families pay a nominal dignity fee to do their holiday shopping at the Cross-Lines Christmas Store. 

Annie Jones, a member of Rainbow Mennonite Church and a longtime volunteer with the Christmas Store explained, “The store uses an empty building each year, this year it’s a former post office. Families can shop for clothing, toys, bikes and food – everything they need to have a nice holiday.” This includes MCC canned meat, in addition to frozen chicken, vegetables, fruit desserts as well as cereals, popcorn and canned soups. “Sometimes new families are confused when they see the cans of meat from MCC, so we provide recipes in Spanish and English to give them ideas of how to use the meat. They are very happy to have that protein for their children,” shared Jones.

The families are gracious, and tell us the canned meat is “a real gift,” Jones joyfully explained.