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Iowa pork and agriculture leaders have scheduled a series of events across the state to thank cities and towns that are home to major meat processing plants, which have struggled over the past year with large COVID-19 outbreaks.

Officials are expressing their gratitude to those communities who supported everyone involved in pork production the past 12 months. They are thanking the communities that lifted the spirits and provided inspiration for Iowa's pig farmers during the pandemic.

The first "Thank You" celebration is being held in Waterloo on Tuesday (March 23), which is National Ag Day.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association, in conjunction with Iowa pig farmers, Tyson Foods and community volunteers, will be giving away 1,300 pork loins at the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo. The drive-thru event is scheduled from 4-6 PM, or until the supply runs out.

The pork loin giveaway is one of several events planned in Waterloo on Tuesday. At 11 AM, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will present the Ag Leader Award for Leadership in Community to the Iowa Food Bank Association (IFBA), which is headquartered in the city. Naig, Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, representatives from the Iowa Food Bank Association, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Grow Cedar Valley, Tyson Foods and Iowa pig farmers are all scheduled to appear at the presentation.

IFBA represents the six food banks operating across the state, which were integral in distributing meat donations to Iowans impacted by work reduction and job losses caused by COVID-19.

As part of the Waterloo celebration, Iowa pig farmers are planning to donate $1,000 to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank for its continued work to alleviate hunger. They also plan to provide pork coupons at local Fareway and Hy-Vee stores for consumers to use and deliver pork thank-you baskets to local police officers and firefighters.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is organizing similar events in other locations. Other community celebrations will be held this spring in Denison, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Storm Lake.

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