MCC to replace its meat canning rig

Mar 30, 2015 by and

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A new rig for Mennonite Central Committee’s traveling meat canning operation will be coming together soon, mostly in Ephrata, Pa.

The Mennonite Central Committee meat canner — shown here with the 2014-15 crew of David Hochstetler, Raynor Krahn, Stanley Toews and Toby Penner — will be replaced in time for the next canning season in the fall. — Silas Crews/MCC

The Mennonite Central Committee meat canner — shown here with the 2014-15 crew of David Hochstetler, Raynor Krahn, Stanley Toews and Toby Penner — will be replaced in time for the next canning season in the fall. — Silas Crews/MCC

MCC canning coordinator John Hillegass said nothing was specifically wrong with the current, 21-year-old canner, but MCC wants to be more comfortable that it will pass U.S. and Canada food safety inspections.

Because of this, the season’s final sessions — scheduled for April in Leamington and El­mira, Ont. — were canceled. However, the unit will get a final send-off when it cans vegetables during the Mennonite World Conference assembly July 21-26 in Harrisburg, Pa.

“The canner that we have now is the third generation,” he said. “It’s the third trailer MCC has had, and each one has lasted about 20 years.

“We knew something like this was coming up. We had a new one in the works. We’ve been talking about it quite a while, but it became a reality last summer.”

The next canner will be a few feet longer to accommodate two additional pressure cookers, but the layout will be mostly unchanged. The hope is that greater capacity and flexibility will create options for shorter days or processing more turkey, beef, chicken or pork at one time.

“Things that can be crafted without special permits are coming from [volunteers] from all over the country,” Hillegass said. “But most of the equipment is coming from Pennsylvania.”

Since a new canner only comes along about every 20 years, the $500,000 project is above and beyond MCC’s budget.

“We are doing some special fundraising for this but want to be careful it doesn’t take away from other projects MCC is doing,” Hillegass said.

The new canner should be ready when the next canning season begins in October.

More than 30,000 volunteers fill, weigh, wash and label hundreds of thousands of cans of meat for MCC annually.


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