In the wake of the deadly tornado that devastated areas near Oklahoma City in May, pork producers remain on the front lines of disaster relief in Oklahoma.
“Almost immediately after news of the tornado spread, I started getting calls, texts and emails from pork producers and pork industry professionals wanting to help,” says Roy Lee Lindsey, Jr., executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council (okPORK). “It’s hard to express our gratitude for this tremendous outpouring of support.”
By partnering with the ONEOK energy company, okPORK has donated nearly 7,000 pork meals to tornado victims and volunteers assisting with clean-up efforts. To distribute the meals, pork producers partnered with Operation BBQ Relief, a not-for-profit corporation that offers food, friendship and hope to people devastated by natural disasters across the United States.
Help for the Heartland
On May 25, okPORK members grilled 1,150 pork burgers. The sandwiches were provided free to tornado victims and volunteers and were available to the general public for a contribution to the relief efforts.
OkPORK also worked with the National Pork Board to bring the Pork Checkoff’s We CareSM trailer to Oklahoma. In addition, state pork associations have donated money to purchase food for the relief efforts. “This generosity allows our local resources to go that much farther,” Lindsey says.
When the We Care trailer arrived on May 29, okPORK volunteers began feeding hundreds of people each day in the Bethel Acres, Carney and Little Axe communities, which had been hit by a tornado on Sunday, May 19 – the day before the massive tornado hit Moore.
“While the national media has been focusing on Moore, the folks in these other communities need just as much help,” says Lindsey, who noted that the tornado demolished a 200-home mobile home park in Bethel Acres.
Pork producers, okPORK staff and volunteers spent four days near Shawnee, serving more than 2,000 meals through June 1.
“The sheer magnitude of the tornado damage in the area is tremendous,” Lindsey says. “It makes you feel good, however, that there are so many people who want to help.”
Pork producers show We Care
Pork producers’ willingness to help Oklahoma’s tornado victims demonstrates a commitment to the pork industry’s We Care ethical principles of providing safe, nutritious food and contributing to a better quality of life.
“People in the pork industry genuinely care about their community, and sometimes that community is half a country away,” Lindsey says. “For us, it’s all about serving people in need and helping them get back on their feet.”