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Maple Leaf Farms donates duck products to chefs to feed people in need

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- With restaurants shut down across the country, you might think their suppliers would need extra cash to keep things going.

America's largest duck supplier is right in our own backyard and is donating product to make sure people get enough to eat, while grateful chefs prepare the meals for those who need it the most.

"We want to make sure that everyone has food on their plate, and we can help with that so we want to make sure we are helping with that," Olivia Tucker says.

Tucker is the fourth generation to run Maple Leaf Farms, the largest duck producer in the country that's headquartered outside of Warsaw.

While the company has donated 35,000 portions of duck to local food banks, and provides giveaway food bags to its employees, it also has sent hundreds of portions of duck to chefs in Dallas, Boston, Albany, and Chicago who are helping feed people in need.

A Chicago chef says Maple Leaf Farms was the first donor of protein to his program to feed front line and laid off restaurant workers.

"We know that we will be able to survive this as a company, and we would much rather help people in need that need it right now," she says.

"We may not be able to donate millions of dollars to these organizations, but we do have the talent and the ability to cook. And everybody essentially needs to eat, so that was the driving force behind doing this and all of that," says Chicago-based chef Jereme McGovern.

Working out of a park district kitchen near one of Chicago's harbors, Chef Jereme got a group of his chef buddies to help begin his program in the middle of March.

He says Maple Leaf Farms was the first donor of protein -- 500 portions of duck.

"The first week it was very slow and it was still new to everybody, but now that we're on five weeks or six weeks or whatever it is now, it's progressively getting busier and busier each day. We see probably 20 new guests every day for dinner, a day over. So the growth is huge and it continues, and we're not turning anybody away," he says.

What began as feeding five people has blossomed into now serving more than 5,000 meals not only lunches to people on the front lines, but also dinners for people laid off from the food industry.

And he says with suppliers' food donations like the one from Maple Leaf Farms, he has no intention of slowing down.

"'Til our resources either run out or we're able to return to our kitchens," McGovern says.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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