Fourth Annual “Give A Ham” Brings Joy (and breakfast) to Homeless Shelter

Fourth Annual “Give A Ham” Brings Joy (and breakfast) to Homeless Shelter

On Tuesday, December 3, a giant grocery list and giant hearts will join together in Des Moines on Giving Tuesday. The plan? Bring a hearty breakfast to people staying at Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS).

“We are thrilled with this generous gift each year,” said CISS CEO Melissa O’Neil. “We know a warm breakfast helps all of us focus and feel healthier and this joint partnership allows for a larger community to understand the challenges of finding that warm meal when you are homeless.”

Those working with CISS are the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, and Fareway. They are working together for the fourth year in a row to mark Giving Tuesday in a meaningful way.

“When we were looking for a charity that would appreciate a donation of pork products, it just made sense to work with the Shelter,” explained Patrick Gannon, an IPPA board member and Iowa pig farmer from Colfax. “It is our way of giving back on Giving Tuesday locally, and it is part of our larger national campaign for Hams Across America where we highlight the diverse product donations the pork industry makes throughout the year.”

Volunteers will begin cooking breakfast around 5:30 a.m. The menu includes eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, fruit, orange juice and coffee (all donated by the contributing organizations) for approximately 300, which includes people staying at CISS in emergency shelter, living on their second and third floors and anyone living on the streets that needs breakfast.

“We are proud to join the pork industry on Giving Tuesday to kick-off the Hams Across America campaign,” said Fareway Vice President of Market Operations Jeff Cook. “Serving a protein-rich meal at the Shelter stresses the importance of supporting our local communities and farmers, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.”

CISS provides 150 beds in its emergency shelter. Earlier this fall when temperatures were lower than normal, the shelter had close to 200 people several nights in a row.

“Our numbers are up for this time of year,” explained O’Neil. “Typically, we don’t see 200 until January, so you can imagine how this impacts our supplies and operations.”

CISS provides three meals per day to people staying with them. They maximize resources to keep the cost of breakfast to $1.97 per person. In their end of the year request for donations, they ask for people to consider sponsoring one breakfast for a week at $13.97, or to cover the cost of one breakfast for the month with a donation of $59.10.

“On Giving Tuesday, thanks to the gift from pork industry associations and Fareway, we offer our heartiest breakfast of the year with both bacon AND sausage,” O’Neil added. “It’s a real treat for our clients and it not only warms their stomachs, but the conversations that we have that morning warms all of our hearts.”


  • Governor Reynolds and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig will be in attendance.
  • See below for the Grocery List for the CISS Hams Across America/Giving Tuesday event.

Grocery List

2019 Hams Across America/Giving Tuesday Event

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Central Iowa Shelter & Services

1420 Mulberry, Des Moines, Iowa

Eggs                    12–120 count eggs shell on (1440 eggs)

Bacon                 75 lbs (1050 bacon slices)

Sausage             80 lbs pre-cooked sausage patties (680 patties)

Pancake mix     16 boxes of mix

Fruit trays         12 trays

Orange juice    25 gallons

Coffee                5 (3-lb cans)

Creamer            2 cases

Sugar                  4 cases of individual packages of sugar

Syrup                  5 cases of 12

Cups                   600 Styrofoam 8-oz cups

Silver ware       600 count of both forks and spoons

Napkins             600 napkins

Wet Ones         6–8 containers wet ones