Not all food bank donations go to feed hungry humans.
Food banks accept all donations, then find that some aren't suitable for human consumption. They may be unlabeled, past their expiration date or, in the case of produce, beginning to fade. Disposing of this unusable generosity can actually cost a hunger agency, but the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont has found a solution: the barnyard creatures at OohMahNee Farm
Headed by Cayce Mell, OohMahNee is as a nonprofit refuge for abused or neglected farm animals in Hunker, Pa. Many of OohMahNee's animals were bred to fatten up quickly on diets of cheap grain for slaughter. But at OohMahNee, the animals live out their natural lives in as much health and comfort as possible. Produce helps, Mell says.
Food bank Executive Director Marlene Kozak stresses that far more humans than animals benefit from what they receive throughout the year, although warehouse manager Kevin Povich allows that some weeks they get more bad food than good.
Still, Povish says, it helps the situation that this farm too is a nonprofit agency. The food bank had already been trying to give its inedible produce to for-profit farmers. Otherwise, only pet shelters had benefited from the food bank's excess largesse, in the form of passed-on pet food in damaged packaging.
Mell's enthusiasm for this new form of farm chow may be catchy. "Our veterinarian said he's going to recommend to other farmers that they try to supplement their animals' diets," she says. One preference the vet may not recommend: When outdated cakes come in, it's the pigs who prefer 'em.
To volunteer in the human-to-animal food transport, call OohMahNee at 724-755-2420.