Volunteers needed to help with meat canning

LEWISTOWN – Volunteers are needed for the annual meat canning project slated to take place Feb. 11 to 14 at East Derry Fire Company in Lewistown.

Canning Secretary Rick Esh said help is needed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily to process 30,000 pounds of turkey for those less fortunate. Clean-up will continue past 7 p.m.

Volunteer jobs include cutting the turkey into small pieces, washing and labeling cans, operating the canner, stirring kettles of meat, weighing cans, boxing the final product and cleaning up.

“Cutting the meat is the big thing,” Esh said, and extra hands are always appreciated for that step in the process.

This is the second year the mobile meat canner will visit its current location. For many years, the canning project was held at the A.J. Peachey and Sons business near Reedsville; but when the building burned in a fire, project organizers had to find a new location. Canning was canceled in 2011 because there was no location.

The East Derry Fire Company is one of 34 venues in the United States that will be visited by the mobile canner during the 2012-2013 canning season, Esh said.

After processing, 90 percent of the two-pound cans of meat will be distributed by the Mennonite Central Committee to people and countries in need. Esh said 10 percent of the meat will stay within Mifflin, Juniata, Huntingdon, Centre and Blair counties. The meat will be distributed to food pantries or used for other local emergencies.

Currently, the ministry has not met its financial goal of $60,000 for the project. The Central Pennsylvania World Hunger Association, which organizes the canning, is still accepting donations for the effort.

“There’s a need to feed the people,” Esh urged, adding that meat canning is not an effort of just one group, but a ministry of the whole community.

“It’s a chance to meet people, a chance to do God’s work,” he said.

Walk-in help is welcome at any time, and small groups do not need to register. However, Esh encouraged large groups of 15 to 20 people to contact Ben Stoltzfus at (814) 625-2430 to arrange a date and time to volunteer.

Donations can be sent to the ministry at Central Pennsylvania World Hunger Association, P.O. Box 76, Belleville, PA, 17004.