(Lakewood, Colorado) I'm sure back when Frank Stratton graduated from Jefferson High School back in 1995, he had no idea he would one day return to the state on a mission. Now as an HVAC installer in the construction industry out in Lakewood, Colorado the likelihood of him driving to West Central Minnesota to pick up loads of hogs for needy families would be when pigs fly.
Listen to our One on One conversation with Frank Stratton (AUDIO BELOW)
Following a conversation with his mom Lolly, who still lives in West Central Minnesota, Frank has been flying down the road with loads of pigs several times. She told him what a shame it was that pork producers were having to euthanize their livestock because they could get the animals processed. With decreased demand, due to restaurant closures and restrictions, and challenges within the processing industry, it has led to a backlog in the production chain. That conversation was on May 1st. Frank thought about it and starting making some calls. He and his wife had just received their Federal stimulus checks and decided to use that money to purchase some hogs that they could get processed. They concluded that they would then donate the meat. That is easier said then done.
Frank started the long process of finding a processor to butcher the pigs. He ended up calling dozens and dozens of them. Frank found two processors in Colorado. One was a bigger processor, the other processed wild game, typically only during hunting season. It turns out the smaller company had some seasonal help that was furloughed from work and were looking for a paycheck. Frank knew of a producer in Minnesota with family connections. The Rohloff family from Morris said they had the hogs, if Frank could come get them and deliver them to a processor. It turned out to be a win-win-win-win deal; for the farmers, the processor, the employees, and lastly the people receiving the processed meat.
Frank also contacted various non-profits, food shelves, churches, Meals on Wheels programs and more to find those looking for meat. So far the list includes: the Food Bank of the Rockies, St. Michael's Catholic Church Meals on Wheels, Inter-Faith Food bank of Craig, Craig Morman Church, Master Works (a company in Craig that donated meat to people who are out of work), Moffat County High School Fundraiser (with charitable donation), Tin Shed Food Bank and South Fellowship Food Bank.
On May 4th, with a trailer he borrowed from a friend, he was off to Morris, MN. Frank's wife Tammy has been helping with a lot of things related to generating donations to pay for this operation. He averages twenty hogs each time. After more than 12,000 miles, 120 pigs (weighing in at over 21,600 lbs.), and lots of donated time, Frank has taken six trips so far since that first one in early May. Each one costs about $8000. In addition to their stimulus checks, the Strattons have received a lot of donations. In order to continue feeding people, they will need more. Frank says he and his family are coming back the Alexandria area for a vacation in early July. Following that he hopes to be able to return for a seventh mission.
You can help if you'd like. Frank has a GoFundMe page at https://gf.me/u/x9x7g6 or on Venmo: @Frank-Stratton-5