Governor Pawlenty, Minnesota’s Turkey Farmers Honor Thanksgiving


Lara Durben

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MTGA Donates 16,700 Pounds of Minnesota-Grown Turkey to Food Shelves

St. Paul, MN (November 20, 2010) – Governor Tim Pawlenty and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) continued a time-honored tradition today by talking turkey at the State Capitol.

At the event, MTGA President Kent Meschke, Little Falls, MN announced the donation of approximately 16,700 pounds of turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM) along with a financial contribution of $6,100, which will be used to buy additional Minnesota grown turkey products for distribution across the state.

“We know times remain challenging for many families this year and Minnesota’s turkey farmers want to do their part in combating hunger with this donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota,” said Meschke. “The product donation is enough turkey to feed nearly 21,000 people.”

In addition, MTGA – through its partnership with Turkey To Go mobile food cart in downtown Mineapolis – is pleased to announce that for every order of carved turkey from Turkey To Go prior to Thanksgiving, a donation of turkey will be made to a family in need through HSM. Details on ordering turkey from Turkey To Go can be found at

HSM, a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota, will coordinate the distribution of the turkey. All processing costs for the turkey are being donated by Jennie-O Turkey Store, headquartered in Willmar, MN. Various other costs of raising the turkeys, such as feed, bedding, equipment and other inputs, were donated by several companies and organizations across Minnesota, the U.S. and Canada.

According to HSM, hunger and poverty are on the rise in Minnesota.  Currently, 1 in 5 families with children in our community has trouble putting food on the table.  This year, in the first six months alone, Twin City food shelves served 193,000 individuals. That equates to the sum populations of Edina, Woodbury and Bloomington.

Said Colleen Moriarty, HSM Executive Director: “We all should be concerned that over 10% of our population requires emergency food assistance.  This generous gift will help low-income families put food on the table this holiday season and throughout the New Year. We greatly appreciate the continued support of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.”

Since 2001, MTGA has donated 173,700 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state – or enough turkey to feed over 217,000 people. This year, the donation will provide a helping hand to families in communities such as Faribault, Melrose, Willmar, Thief River Falls, Frazee, Perham and Buffalo.

In addition to the donation announcement, MTGA brought along a turkey to meet the Governor. The bird came from a flock raised at the Turkey Research Unit in UMore Park in Rosemount, MN.

Meschke owns and operates Meschke Poultry, which produces 700,000 turkey hens per year that are marketed through Northern Pride Cooperative in Thief River Falls. The operation – started by Meschke’s father – consists of brood and grow-out facilities and a feed manufacturing facility in Little Falls. He and his wife, Lynn, have two daughters: Tanya and Katie.

Approximately 250 turkey family farmers raise about 46 million birds annually, which places Minnesota squarely at the #1 position in the U.S. for turkey production.

“As a turkey farmer, I know a lot has changed in our industry since the early 1930s,” said Meschke. “We are able to raise more turkeys and feed more people, using less energy, inputs and resources than ever before. We are proud to say today that we offer consumers a wider variety of products that are safer; more convenient; and affordable because of advances in technology and improvements in our food production practices. Our turkeys eat better and live in safer environments, and I want to ensure consumers that for Minnesota’s turkey farmers, raising healthy turkeys and providing healthy, wholesome and safe food products to the world is the #1 priority.”

MTGA was founded in 1939. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. and is also home to three vibrant turkey processing companies – Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, Northern Pride Cooperative in Thief River Falls, and Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall. These companies collectively have created over 2,000 turkey products for the consumer and foodservice markets that are shipped across the country and the world.

Each turkey raised in Minnesota brings nearly $12 in economic value to the state.


About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and currently headquartered in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers raising an estimated 45 million turkeys in 2010. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

About Hunger Solutions Minnesota

Hunger Solutions Minnesota is a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota. We take action to assure food security for all Minnesotans by supporting over 300 agencies that provide food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassroots advocacy. HSM advocates for the maximum use of all federal public nutrition dollars available and works to improve low income Minnesotans’ access to all nutrition programs. The HSM Minnesota Food HelpLine (1-888-711-1151) helps enroll low-income Minnesotans in the Food Support (Food Stamps) program and helps callers find emergency food assistance in their area. For further information, visit or call 651-789-9843.

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