I have a new favorite meat packing company.
The Smithfield Company, upon receiving a letter from a Newport News, VA Foodbank vice president, sent ten thousand pounds of meat to the Foodbank, enough to feed 20,000 people at holiday dinners. From the Hampton Roads Daily Press:
“We were so desperately short of protein,” said Frank, vice president of development for the Foodbank. “Rice and beans and canned foods are not a good holiday meal. That might sustain people, but it certainly will break their spirit. This is just really, really huge.”
The Foodbank serves a wide region, including Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg and Gloucester, James City, Mathews, Surry and York counties. The organization distributed more than 6 million pounds of food in the last fiscal year.
Bulk donations of meat are very rare, Frank said. Instead, people might drop off single turkeys or hams, while supermarkets might give a box or two at a time. The Foodbank has to buy the rest.
The Christmas season is particularly hard for hungry families because children are out of school for more than two weeks and don’t get free breakfasts and lunches, Frank said. The donation from Smithfield Packing and Gwaltney of Smithfield came just in time, she said.
While the companies regularly donate to schools, churches and civic groups, this is their first gift to the Foodbank.
“It was a little sobering to all of us to find out how great the need is in this area,” said Keller Watts, a vice president of sales at Smithfield Packing. “Food is something that most of us take for granted.”
As workers unloaded the 18-wheeler from Smithfield, Frank stood in the cold parking lot and hugged Watts.
“You’re my new angel,” she told him.
Bravo, Smithfield. Although I doubt you did it for the business perk, I can tell you that you have gained a new customer today.