Can-do: Newton area volunteers assist worldwide relief efforts

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Volunteers of all ages assisted with meat canning efforts at the MCC Material Resources Center in North Newton this week. The canned chicken will be sent around the world.

The parking lot at the MCC Central States Material Resources Center  in North Newton was pretty full the past few days, a clue that there was something going on inside.

Inside were the volunteers, who had driven those cars in the parking long, taking part in an annual effort to feed the world — or at least as much of it as possible.

"For the two days that this group (primarily Newton volunteers) is here, the goal is 13,500 pounds," said Jason Unruh of Peabody, a local organizer of the effort. "The meat canner will be going, off and on, for about three weeks total. The goal is 96,000 pounds."

That means on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the group produced about 9,000 cans of chunked chicken — about 35,000 meals for those in need.

Every year MCC’s Mobile Meat Canner travels across the United States and Canada meeting volunteers who prepare cans of turkey, beef, chicken and pork to be sent around the world. More than 30,000 people a year volunteer to fill, weigh, wash and label every can. 

Once they're finished, cans are shipped to our partners, providing important nutrients when meat is hard to purchase.

Volunteer to fill, weigh, wash and label cans of chunked chicken for relief efforts around the world.

nullThe meat is shipped around the world — last year finding its way to Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Jordan, Syria, Ukrane, and Zambia in addition to some U.S. locations.

"It goes all over the world," Unruh said.

The last day of canning in North Newton will be Saturday.

Four canner operators travel with the meat canner to 34 different locations across the US and Canada and help the volunteers at each location.

The canner will he headed to Illinois in December and Indianna and Ohio in January.

Since 1946, volunteers have gathered to can meat that MCC sends to hungry people across the globe.

Thanks to a limited schedule, and a smaller number of locations available for canning, the 2020-2021 canning season yielded some 320,000 cans, or 480,000 pounds, of meat.

Still, more than 550,000 pounds of canned chicken was shipped in the last fiscal year.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week,  volunteers  produced about 9,000 cans of chunked chicken — about 35,000 meals for those in need — at the MCC Material Resources Center in North Newton.

MCC canned meat shipments

Fiscal year  April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021

Country — Pounds shipped

Burkina Faso — 25,920

Ecuador — 20,160

Ethiopia — 216,000

Jordan — 20,880

Syria — 36,000

Ukraine — 180,000

U.S. (Puerto Rico) — 25,848

U.S. (other locations) — 15,552

Zambia — 10,080

Total — 550,440