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Ham for the holidays

NEW Cooperative gives out 1,200 holiday hams

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Chris Kellner, of Humboldt, volunteers to hand out hams for NEW Cooperative’s Hams for Hunger event Tuesday afternoon. With the help of employee volunteers, NEW Cooperative handed out 1,200 hams in less than three hours.

More than 1,000 local families will have a holiday ham on the dinner table this Christmas thanks to NEW Cooperative.

For the past three years, NEW Cooperative has hosted the Hams for Hunger event in partnership with Upper Des Moines Opportunity. The staff at UDMO distributes 1,200 coupons to Webster County residents to redeem for a free ham, courtesy of NEW Cooperative.

“In our minds, we’re in the business of producing food and it’s just a natural fit and a way to give back to some of the less fortunate people in these communities, as well as the need in Fort Dodge,” said NEW Cooperative General Manager Dan Dix.

On Tuesday, the day of the Hams for Hunger event, pickup truck beds overflowing with boxes of hams from Webster City Custom Meats sat in front of NEW Cooperative’s main office on First Avenue South in Fort Dodge. People redeeming their coupons lined up in cars to drive through and receive their hams while NEW Cooperative employee volunteers and volunteers from UDMO and the Fort Dodge Fire Department waited, ready to hand over the hams.

“Our employees do all the work,” Dix said. “They feel very good about doing it and seeing the reactions and some of the conversations with the people that we’re sharing the hams with is kind of priceless for some of them. Every year, we have people who tell us, ‘We wouldn’t have anything for Christmas if it wasn’t for this.'”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Kim Motl, of Upper Des Moines Opportunity, helps hand out some of the 1,200 hams NEW Cooperative gave away on Tuesday afternoon. For the past few years, NEW Cooperative has partnered with UDMO to give away hams to local families in need.

In addition to the 1,200 hams NEW Cooperative handed out on Tuesday, the company will be delivering more than 800 more hams to 17 food pantries in the 13 Iowa counties that the company serves.

NEW Cooperative members and employees will also receive hams, Dix said. In total, the company hands out nearly 6,000 hams every year.