Canning for a cause

Jan. 13—MONTGOMERY — For more than 70 years, the Mennonite Central Committee has been canning for a cause in Daviess County, and while the location of the annual multi-day event has changed a few times as well as the type of meat used since 1948, the purpose has not.

"We will be doing 2,500 pounds of poultry beginning at 6 a.m. Monday," said Levi Raber, one of the local organizers for the annual canning event that takes place at Dinky's. "Before we had it at other places but for the last 15 or so years, we've had it here at Dinky's."

Those other places included homesteads and processing facilities among others. Raber said at one time, the volunteers actually butchered and deboned all the meat, but the United States Department of Agriculture changed regulations that amended the way the thousands of pounds of meat needed to be handled and canned.

Raber said the majority of those helping with canning are from area Mennonite and Amish churches but anyone is welcome to come support the cause.

"People just show up to help. We'll find something for you to help with. We not only have people of all ages from around here helping but also people from Worthington, Flat Rock, Illinois, Salem. It takes a lot of people to get it all done," he said. "I'd say it takes between 40 and 50 people at a time to get a batch of meat ready for canning. Over the course of the three days here and all the hours it takes, there could be a upwards of 600 to 800 people who come in to help."

The mobile canner, brought in by the canning crew for the Mennonite Central Committee, can process over 100 cans at a time. That's how the meat, which is purchased with money area churches and others donate, is processed so quickly.

"The boys on the canning crew travel all over the country and Canada to do this meat canning," said Raber. "They start their rounds in October finish up around April."

Once the meat is canned, labeled and boxed, it's ready to be sent out to help those in need.

"We keep about 10% of what we can here to go to local food pantries. The rest is able to be shipped around the world," he said.

For more information on the Mennonite Central Committee canning project, visit Donations can be made locally at First Savings Bank in Odon and Montgomery.