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Hajrudin Sahic of Merhamet, an MCC partner organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Randy Puljek-Shank, an MCC worker, and Adil Pezerovic of Merhamet at the Cumberland Valley Relief Center in Chambersburg, Pa., where they participated in meat canning. Tim Friesen

Hajrudin Sahic of Merhamet, an MCC partner organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Randy Puljek-Shank, an MCC worker, and Adil Pezerovic of Merhamet at the Cumberland Valley Relief Center in Chambersburg, Pa., where they participated in meat canning. Tim Friesen

Meat canning remains strong in spite of a difficult economy

Cathryn Clinton
May 22, 2009

AKRON, Pa. – In times of economic difficulty, the production of Mennonite Central Committee's (MCC) mobile meat canner has historically stayed strong. The 2008-2009 season was no exception as it yielded more than the previous season.

Between October and the end of April, the canning crew traveled to two Canadian provinces and 13 U.S. states, working with volunteers to can more than 566,000 cans of meat, up from about 550,000 last season.

Members of this year's meat canning crew are Steven Bricker of Chambersburg, Pa.; Peter Reimer of Tolstoi, Man.; Viktor Schwendich of Huenfeld, Germany; and Josh Voth of Goessel, Kan.

At different times throughout the season, the canning volunteers were joined by people who work with the distribution of MCC meat in their respective countries. Oksana Oleynikova from Makeevka, Ukraine; Garley Michel from Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Adil Pezerovic from Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Hajrudin Sahic from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina were eager to be a part of the meat canning process.

Oleynikova was interested in how the meat that goes to the work of Good Shepherd Children's Shelter gets canned. She visited the Whitehorse, Pa., canning site. According to Leroy Stoltzfus, material resource assistant for MCC East Coast, she was impressed with the number of people who came to work and made a special point to talk to the children who came with their parents to the canning site where she helped fill cans.

Michel visited the canning site in North Newton, Kan., where he participated in each part of the processing work. He said, "I've never seen this kind of effort by people to give to other people."

Sahic and Pezerovic work for Merhamet, an MCC partner organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina that uses the canned turkey to prepare 10,000 meals a day in soup kitchens. They visited canning sites in Chambersburg and Kirkwood, Pa. As they worked alongside people throughout the day, they asked the volunteers what motivated them. According to Tim Friesen, canning coordinator, the volunteers each responded in their own way that they were motivated by their faith in God.

In addition to emergency relief for people affected by war and disaster, the meat is used in orphanages, senior centers and for specialized food-for-work programs that organize communities to build roads, plant trees or respond to other local needs.

This past year MCC shipped more than 956,000 pounds of turkey, pork and beef for people in 15 countries, including Canada and the United States.

Each year, MCC seeks people to serve on the mobile meat canner. Canning crew members serve two-year terms. To learn more, visit mcc.org/canning.