In the 1990s, MCC began shipping canned meat to locations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, also known as North Korea) for famine relief. Currently, MCC supports 14 orphanages as well as tuberculosis rest homes and hepatitis hospitals with canned meat.
Medications for treating tuberculosis and hepatitis are hard on the liver and protein is needed for the liver to heal properly. The canned meat is easier to digest because it is already processed. Last year, more than one-quarter of all the meat canned by MCC fed patients and those caring for them in DPRK.
Local orphanage directors are enthusiastic about the canned meat. “We don’t have turkeys in our country, so the canned turkey is a good chance for the children to try something new,” reported one director (name and location withheld for security reasons). Cooks are creative with the meat, using the broth to flavor soups and adding the meat to everything from stir-fried dishes to stews as a protein supplement to the meal.
After learning how hundreds of volunteers across the U.S. and Canada come together to hand-pack the meat for MCC projects, an orphanage director commented, “Today I learned that this canned meat is not a simple product. I appreciate your donation very much!”
Jennifer Deibert is North Korea program coordinator for MCC.