Serving Up Eggs to Iowans in Need


When a holiday lands in the middle of the week, limited mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service means we are unable to ship day-old baby chicks. It takes a full 21 days to incubate an egg and hatch a chick — and you can’t tell the hens to take a week off — so this month, as a result of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, we found ourselves with a surplus of more than 54,000 eggs.

What do poultry owners do when you have too many eggs? You share the surplus with friends and family.

Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrition, and our team agreed that they shouldn’t go to waste. So, we embraced the opportunity to be neighborly and help feed fellow Iowans in need.

In order to donate the eggs, the Hatchery had to secure an egg license and follow standard food handling and safety regulations. Representatives from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) provided our team with support and guidance, helping to make these donations to area food banks and pantries possible.

Over the course of three days, McMurray Hatchery staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare the eggs for local food banks and pantries. To wash, inspect, candle and box all the eggs for donation required a significant investment of time and resources — working each day to process more than 14,000 individual eggs. The project was a company-wide effort with Tom Watkins leading egg washing, our Hatch crew and Customer Service/Shipping team candling each egg one by one, Marketing keeping everything moving, and several friends and family members chipping in.

“I’m proud our team and their efforts, and happy we were able to turn this business challenge into a program that serves the needs of so many people in our area.”Tom Watkins, Vice President, McMurray Hatchery

Once processed, the eggs were distributed to charitable organizations throughout the state including All Cultures Equal, Upper Des Moines Opportunity/Hamilton County Food Pantry, the Lord’s Cupboard in Jewell, the Johnston Partnership, and other small, local food pantries. The bulk of the donation was sent to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, which helped to coordinate the distribution of nearly 90 cases of eggs to Iowa food pantries and other organizations in need.

“One of the most requested foods that the Northeast Iowa Food Bank receives from our network of member pantries, community meal sites, and from the clients we serve, are eggs. These eggs provide incredible nutritional value, as well as expand menu options for households and organizations that use our services. We’re so grateful to the people at Murray McMurray Hatchery for their generous and compassionate contribution.”Barb Prather, Executive Director, Northeast Iowa Food Bank