Josh Humphreys knew there were those in his community who struggled to find their next meal. He saw it firsthand through his church’s own food bank. So, last year, his family donated 11 hogs to Southside Baptist Church in Fulton, Mo., to be given away to people in need.
Then this year, an email from the Missouri State Fair allowed this Callaway County pork producer to take part in another opportunity, teaching his young family the importance of giving back and serving others.
The Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids has a Hogs for Hunger program that allows Missouri State Fair 4-H and FFA swine exhibitors to donate their animal after the show. These show pigs are loaded and sent to a processor, where ultimately the animal’s meat ends up at food banks.
Humphreys’ stepdaughter, Jill Pry, was one of those swine exhibitors. The family talked about it and decided to donate 3½ hogs to the program. But there was a caveat. Humphreys wanted the donation to remain local, so he opted to bring them home and work with Central Missouri Meats to get the animals in and processed quickly.
“I wanted it to go to our Southside Baptist Church here in Fulton because the benefit would be able to be seen in our community,” he says. “I wanted to know that they would not only receive the food, but more importantly they receive the gospel of Christ.”
It was a life lesson for not only Pry, but also Humphreys’ twin boys Gideon and Henry, along with daughter Rowan, to understand. “Hopefully, with the food and help from church their circumstances in life can improve.”
Alternative pork production
Since the 1970s, hogs have been a part of the family farm outside of Fulton. Humphreys is a third-generation pork producer. He started in the business with his father in 2001 raising commercial pigs for a niche market. When his father, Jim, died in 2018, Humphreys persisted in the family pork business.
Today, he continues to raise hogs for Iowa-based Lynch Livestock. The company focuses on rearing animals without antibiotics and in a humane manner. Humphreys has seven hoop buildings that offer deep bedding for animal comfort.
He finishes anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 feeder pigs annually purchased from producers in southern Missouri, then ships them to Iowa for processing. “This allows us to stay independent in the hog business and remain on the family farm,” Humphreys explained.
Along with the commercial hog operation, Humphreys is a biologist with Boehringer-Ingelheim. His wife, Angela, is a local veterinarian. The family also raises show pigs in hoop buildings as well, which their children show during the summer and at the Missouri State Fair.
Statewide pork effort
This year, Missouri State Fair swine exhibitors provided more than 900 pounds of ground pork to the Hogs for Hunger campaign. Missouri pig farmers can still donate to their local food bank through this program. Missouri Farmers Care Foundation offers to reimburse $1 per pound donated to cover processing fees.
The Drive to Feed Kids campaign continues to expand its partnerships and ways to donate, says Ashley McCarty, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care Foundation. Like the Humphreys, farmers can donate to their local charity or wait until the Missouri State Fair. However, the number of hogs eligible for the August event is 50.
“For years, Missouri agriculture raised awareness of need and gathered resources to help close the gap for our neighbors facing food insecurity,” McCarty says. According to Feeding America, one in five Missouri children are food insecure and face uncertainty as to where their next meal may come from.
Food banks continue to report that protein is the most requested and hardest to attain. Through Hogs for Hunger, Missouri pig farmers and 4-H and FFA swine exhibitors have an opportunity to change the lives of neighbors, friends and classmates who don’t have enough to eat, McCarty adds.
Humphreys says his family will continue to donate to those in need. “We’ve been blessed to raise hogs here,” he says. “It’s a good opportunity to give back. Hopefully, as my kids get older, they will be able to see the return.”
Giving is not only about a one-time gesture. Hog producers are encouraged to contribute pigs throughout the year to their local food banks. To learn more about how the Missouri Farmers Care Hogs for Hunger program works and plan your giving, visit mofarmerscare.com/drive.