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This week marks the ninth year in a row that Smart Chickenhas donated chicken to Ozarks Food Harvest, through the Feed the Hungry promotion. This promotion works like this: the company will donate one pound of chicken to the food bank for every ten pounds of products purchased at local grocers. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.
[Sound: forklift moving boxes of chicken]
A forklift moves boxes of chicken in the warehouse at Ozarks Food Harvest in Springfield.
For the food bank, a donation of chicken means one thing: protein. Though the food bank receives numerous food donations throughout the year, Denise Gibson, who is its Director of Development and Communications, says there is always a need for protein.
“People are thrilled. I mean, protein is something we don’t get a lot of donations, and it’s important for a nice, well-rounded diet and well-rounded meal, and this will be just in time for the holiday season. Even if we don’t get it all distributed this week before Christmas, trust me, next week after Christmas, people are still going to be thrilled.”
This donation is based off of how much the food bank purchases from community grocers during the year. Gibson says this reflects just how important donations are.
“People—their neighbors, someone sitting beside them at church, the little neighborhood children a couple of doors down—we do have a problem with hunger in the Ozarks. It’s not something that happens up in the big cities. It’s something that happens right here in our area. I think it’s important for people to reach out and help those that have possibly been recently displaced from their job because it could happen to any of us. It could literally happen to anybody.”
Last year, Smart Chickendonated around 6,500 pounds which provided 5,000 meals for local families at pantries served by Ozarks Food Harvest. Produced by local growers from Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, Smart Chickenbirds are fed an all-natural diet without antibiotics, hormones, steroids or artificial ingredients. Joe Horvath, Account Manager for Smart Chicken, says their chicken is superior due to a unique chilling system.
“After the chickens have been cleaned and are needed to be cooled, we use an air-chilling process with purified cold air to chill the chickens down. Where a lot of the competition uses cold water to chill them, we use purified cold air. The benefit of the cold air is that the water doesn’t get in to the chicken; that maintains the natural flavor and the natural juices of the chicken.”
Horvath says that the same quality of chicken is in every pound of the donation to the food bank. He says the company just produced more based on the projection of the donation this year.
The food bank reaches 20,000 people every week and distributes one million pounds of food every month. Gibson says that more and more families come each year.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.