Wright Farms Market aids in MEC beef donation to food pantries

By HANNAH HOLLIDAY

hannah.holliday@leaderpub.com

DOWAGIAC — Despite reported meat shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, one local farm market and an electric, internet and propane service were able to partner up to make a donation to area food banks.

Last week, Midwest Energy and Communications, 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, teamed up with Wright Farms Market, 57470 M-51 S., Dowagiac, to process more than 1,000 pounds of beef. The meat was then donated from MEC to local area food pantries located in Cass, Lenawee, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.

Jennifer Denton, who works at Wright Farms Market, said Midwest Energy and Communications reached out to the farm market, which specializes in farm fresh beef, pork, chicken and lamb, and asked if staff could process the 1,000-pound order equivalent to the size of about two steers. Processing the order was an all-hands-on-deck situation.

“We had family, friends, everybody helped,” Denton said. “It was double the size of the biggest order we’ve ever done.”

Dent said Steve Wright, the owner of Wright Farms Market, pulled everything together, and employees were grounding beef around the clock for about eight days.

Dent said when the organizers of the various food pantries came to pick up the beef they expressed their appreciation.

“Each of them talked about how it had been so long since they had even had meat donations,” Denton said. “The organizers explained how there are people who are struggling and they are going to be so happy to get that.”

Midwest Energy and Communications has also donated to United Way of Southwest Michigan and United Way of St. Joseph County to help create 568 food boxes in St. Joe County and to help provide resources to more than 20 food pantries in Cass and Van Buren counties along with other philanthropic donations.

Wright Farms Market has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and business is thriving, Denton said, due to people wanting to shop more locally for their meat instead of at the grocery store chains.

With the reported COVID-19 meat shortages, Denton said Wright Farms Market has been affected at the processing level.

“The stage of the process where the animal is chilled and hung, that is a part of the process that we hire out,” she said. “Right now, we can’t get in.”

Denton said the store has plenty of supply of both pork and chicken, but is having trouble processing beef. However, the store does have a ground beef supply.

Denton said since the pandemic started, sales have doubled.

“We are so optimistic, and it’s not just that people are stopping in and trying our meats, our products speak for themselves,” she said. “Customers may not have stopped in had there not been a meat shortage at the grocery store, but they are pleasantly surprised by our quality, and they have definitely started to become repeat customers.”

Wright Farms Market has reserved the hour between 11 a.m. and noon for the immunocompromised and the elderly to shop for the items they need.

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