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Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Local egg producers play Easter bunny

507,000 eggs donated to food pantries in Ohio

By Shelley Grieshop

Penny McElroy takes eggs off an assembly line to stack into boxes for shipping d. . .

COLDWATER - Two local egg producers are donating more than a half million eggs to fill Easter tables and baskets of needy people across Ohio.
The donation by Fort Recovery Equity of Fort Recovery and Hemmelgarn & Sons Inc. of Coldwater has a retail value of more than $74,000. The good deed is part of a statewide contribution by the egg industry to 12 foodbanks in the Second Harvest network, which helps fill food pantries in Mercer and Auglaize counties as well as all 88 counties in Ohio.
"There's a lot of people in this state who go hungry," says Tad Gross, president of Hemmelgarn & Sons. "We're just being good neighbors."
Gross said the donation is a good opportunity for the United Egg Producers and the Ohio Poultry Association to show their true colors by helping those in need, even though egg prices are at an all-time high and are in high demand for the upcoming holiday.
Jerry Knapke, operations manager of Fort Recovery Equity, also strongly believes in lending a hand to those who need it the most.
"Having wholesome, safe food to put on the dinner table should be an expectation, not a luxury, for Ohio's families," Knapke says. "Our company is honored to help Ohioans who are less fortunate."
The total egg donation statewide is 90,000 dozen, totaling more than 1 million eggs. In addition to the two local egg producers, four others also are making egg donations this Easter season: Cal-Maine Farms of Rossburg, Weaver Brothers of Versailles, Hillandale Farms of Akron and Croton and Hertzfeld Poultry Farms of Grand Rapids.
Producers in Mercer and Darke counties provide the vast majority of egg production in Ohio, according to the Ohio Poultry Association.
The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF) has partnered the past seven years with Ohio's egg industry for Easter-time donations. However, this is the first time the United Egg Producers - of which the local producers are a member - have teamed up with Second Harvest.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of the OASHF says eggs are a great resource in Ohio and the perfect food year-round.
"Ohio eggs are a critical item for Ohio's hunger relief provider because they are a versatile, high-protein item that is a staple among Ohio's needy families," she says.
This Easter's egg donation comes at a time when food pantries across the country are experiencing diminished food supplies. High fuel and utility costs, severe shortages of government surplus commodities, a sharp decrease in donated foods by manufacturers and growing unemployment are all to blame, Hamler-Fugitt says.
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