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Mobile Meat Canner returns to Lewis County

Dina Olmstead
Staff writer
Posted 4/26/23

The Mennonite Central Committee Mobile Meat Canner returned to Lowville’s Maple Ridge Center for the fourth year in a row.

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Mobile Meat Canner returns to Lewis County


LOWVILLE —  The Mennonite Central Committee Mobile Meat Canner returned to Lowville’s Maple Ridge Center for the fourth year in a row on Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14.

Over the course of these two days, volunteers helped to produce 10,063 cans of meat. This is over 1,000 cans more than what was produced last year, the equivalent of 40,252 meals that will help feed people around the world.

In 2022, Lowville meat was sent to the Gambella region of Ethiopia. According to population data from the UN Commissioner of Refugees, the Gambella is currently hosting approximately 372,000 refugees from South Sudan in seven refugee camps and one entry reception center. Eighty-eight percent are women and children.

Due to the efforts of the MCC and Lowville volunteers, refugee camps in Ethiopia received 7,680 cans of meat last summer. This provided 30,720 meals to mothers and their children ages 2-5.

The MCC is an international ministry of Anabaptist churches that provides humanitarian relief to people around the world. One way the MCC does this is through an initiative called the Mobile Meat Canner. The Mobile Meat Canner uses a tractor trailer that was repurposed to be a meat cannery. Every year, this mobile meat cannery is driven across the U.S. and Canada with four operators on board. Once they arrive at a destination, these operators work with local volunteers to prepare cans of turkey, beef, chicken and pork.

The process starts by cutting the meat into 1-by-1-inch chunks and placing it in a large steam jacketed kettle. While it’s being heated, the meat is stirred and salt is added. Stirring continues until turkey, chicken and pork reach a temperature of 40 degrees. Beef is stirred until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees. From here, the meat is transferred into cans and weighed. Meat is added or removed until the cans weigh between 1.92 and 1.97 pounds. One of the operators then takes the cans and puts them through a sealing machine.

Once sealed, the cans are placed into empty baskets by volunteers. These baskets are placed into a retort, where they are cooked for approximately 135 minutes at a temperature of 246 degrees and a pressure of 15 pounds per square inch. The baskets are then cooled with a continuous flow of water until the cans are safe to handle. Once they are able to do so, volunteers wash, dry, label and weigh cans, which are then sent to warehouses to be distributed internationally.

There are over 300 positions that need to be filled each year in order to make the Mobile Meat Canner a success. These positions range from the planning committee, to canners, clean up crews and more. In addition to canning meat, volunteers may also help prepare comforters and hygiene kits to be sent to those impacted by war, poverty and/or natural disasters.



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