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EAGLE GROVE, Iowa — The COVID-19 pandemic has set in motion events a fourth generation company did not see coming. At Lewright Meats, their business picked up drastically.

“Reports started coming in about the meatpacking industry and all the people that are becoming sick in there. All of a sudden our phone just started ringing off the hook,” said Lewright Meats owner Ethan Bubeck. “Our schedule filled up faster and further out than it probably ever had before.”

In addition to processing beef and pork for Iowa residents, the company also was asked to assist in something called “Pass the Pork.” It is an effort to help with hogs that need to be removed from producers because plants are not operating at a capacity to take them. The hogs are brought to Eagle Grove and processed to donate to food banks in Iowa.

“We cranked out about 8,000 pounds of ground pork. It essentially took four days,” said Bubeck. “We cut and processed and packaged all the pigs and yielded 4,280 pounds of ground pork, and then we did it again the following Friday and Monday and we ended up sending over 4,000 pounds down to the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines.”

Another batch of meat was sent to a food bank in Waterloo.

“We were the first plant in the state to do it. We’re pretty excited about that. They’re taking pigs that wouldn’t be used anywhere else and they’re donating them and get them out to people that need to eat then eating food and benefiting from the Food Bank of Iowa,” said Bubeck. “We are extremely proud of our guys. We can’t see doing this with any other crew. They’re fast and efficient, they’re loyal, they’re good folks and they want to work hard and you’re doing an amazing job.”

The company operates a retail meat store and a cafe with dining area at their retail location on Broadway Street. The cafe portion remains closed due to the pandemic, but customers can come in to buy meat.

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