December 29, 2011

Canning For a Cause

by Hannah Kiddoo

Last week, an estimated 500 volunteers from Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin canned 22,500 pounds of turkey in 36 hours for distributing to those in need.

From 5 am on December 22 to 5 pm on December 23, volunteers, including participants from Scotland County, collaborated with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), taking turns chopping and packaging meat to ship overseas. The event occurred in conjunction with a national MCC effort to distribute canned goods to countries around the world.

A mobile canning facility from MCC's headquarters in Pennsylvania traveled to Cantril, IA as part of their 37 stop tour throughout the US and Canada; the mobile canner is run by a team of Canner Operators that serve two-year terms and travel to canning sites as needed.

"This is a mobile meat canner that is unique," said canning committee member Travis Martin. "As far as I know there is no other mobile meat canner around that is USDA approved."

The canning facility is designed for convenience and contains equipment for sealing large amounts of jars. Its doors connect directly to the building where volunteers work. Coordinators in Cantril ordered turkey thighs from West Liberty, IA and organized volunteers to work in shifts to ensure that non-stop canning took place.

"The canner just doesn't shut down," said Martin.

Organizers stated that Mennonites in the Pulaski area had been participating in canning for years, but as participation dropped off, the MCC recommended that the area begin to participate in the mobile meat canning schedule.

During the 2010-2011 canning season, MCC shipped a total of 525,096 cans of meat as part of their missions. Top recipients for meat donations included Haiti, Ukraine and North Korea.

Funding for the local project was provided solely by donations and took place throughout the year. This was the 8th year for the event and organizers say that they plan to continue supporting the project in the future. Organizers are hoping to see a continual amount of support from the community and are also looking into avenues for distributing a portion of the canned meat to local families.

To learn more about the MCC and its canning mission, visit

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