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Cans of meat in Burundi Brandon Thiessen

Cans of meat in Burundi Brandon Thiessen

Sixty-one years of MCC meat canning

Cathryn Clinton
June 3, 2008

AKRON, Pa. –Mennonite Central Committee's (MCC) mobile meat canner completed its 61st year of operation in April. The season yielded 550,000 plus cans of meat during the 2007-2008 season to ship to hungry people around the world.

Members of this year's crew are Josh Voth of Goessel, Kan.; Viktor Schwendich of Huenfeld, Germany; Eric Thomas of East Petersburg, Pa.; and David Martens of Winkler, Manitoba.

The season began in October 2007 and ended in April. The crew traveled to 13 states and two Canadian provinces, working with volunteers to can some 954,909 pounds of meat.

In August 2007, survivors of an earthquake in the central region of Peru received 39,360 cans of meat. Following the flood in February, 9,600 cans of meat were sent to Mozambique.

In addition to emergency relief, orphaned and abandoned children, displaced people and those in specialized work programs throughout the world receive the meat. These efforts promote better nutrition and build relationships between people as they work together.

The project is a cooperative event with many volunteers giving their time. In February, a small team of these canning volunteers visited Burundi to see how the use of canned meat has affected the country and people. After the war there, the economy was devastated, and the environment was seriously damaged with only 4 percent of the original forest remaining.

Help Channel Burundi (HCB) developed a project that provides work in tree nurseries. Workers are paid with canned meat. MCC partners with HCB in this effort.

Tim Friesen, canning coordinator, said the people of Burundi asked the visitors to continue this project because there is not enough money to purchase good food such as the canned meat.

This past year MCC shipped over 1,000,000 pounds of turkey, pork and beef to food relief projects in 21 countries and in the United States.

Each year, MCC seeks people to serve on the mobile meat canner. Canning crew members serve two-year terms, spending seven months on the road with the canner and working in Akron, Pa., the other five months of the year.