SPOKANE — Washington cattle ranchers and beef processors have donated more than $20,000 to help feed the region’s needy.
The industry’s Beef Counts program recently capped a summer-long promotion with Second Harvest food bank, Rosauers grocery stores and Agri Beef Co. by giving the beef to Spokane families in need.
Proceeds from every beef sale at Rosauers in Spokane went directly to the Beef Counts program at Second Harvest, said Rob Noel, director of channel marketing for the Washington Beef Commission.
The commission presented a check for more than $20,600. The total includes matching funds from Agri Beef, which processes donated beef at its Yakima, Wash., plant, and donates time and resources to the program.
“Our goal is to be able to raise enough through these promotional, fund-raising efforts to allow Second Harvest to have a year-round supply of beef they can order,” Noel said. “Beef has a lot of great nutritional value, and food banks just don’t get enough of it.”
Quality protein makes up roughly 4 percent of donated food, said Melissa Cloninger, director of donor relations for Second Harvest.
“Beef is costly, especially for families who are struggling to put enough food on the table,” Cloninger said. Protein helps provide a balanced diet, she said.
“We are seeing a higher level of need all year long, and families seeking assistance more chronically than 12 years ago,” Cloninger said. “Because of this last great recession and recovery, when wages are not quite back to pre-recession wages, they’re working but they just can’t make ends meet.”
Noel said the Beef Counts program will “absolutely” continue. Since 2010, it has raised more than $460,000, or roughly 750,000 beef servings.
Ranchers also donate to the program, Noel said. Ranchers donate a calf during the Beef Counts Rollover Auction every fall in Toppenish, Wash,, and auction it repeatedly. Last year, ranchers raised $26,000 in 30 minutes, a figure also matched by Agri Beef, Noel said.
Spokane County Cattlemen members distributed one-pound ground beef packages to families in need, alongside other Washington products — potatoes, plums, bread and apples.
“This allows the local community to see the producers in action,” Noel said.
Cloninger singled out the food industry, particularly retail grocers, wholesalers and producers, for their efforts.
“If it weren’t for the generosity of the entire community, we wouldn’t be able to do nearly the work we do in feeding hungry people,” she said.