Washington ranchers are helping provide much-needed protein to families in need.
Agri Beef Co., based in Boise, Idaho, recently donated $20,000 to the Beef Counts program at Second Harvest, based on sales of their St. Helen’s Beef brand at Rosauers grocery stores during the summer.
The donation goes toward purchasing beef roast to be given to families in need in eastern Washington and north Idaho, said Rod Wieber, chief resource officer for Second Harvest, a hunger relief network based in Spokane.
The donation is the equivalent of 38,000 meals, said Bridget Coon, director of consumer information for the Washington Beef Commission.
The Beef Counts program, which began in 2010, has given more than 325,000 pounds of beef, Wieber said. That’s more than 500,000 meals, Coon said.
The program has increased the amount of protein going out to low-income families, Wieber said.
“We continue to see unprecedented need throughout our service area,” he said.
Second Harvest distributed 23.1 million pounds of food in the year ending June 30, roughly 2.5 million more pounds of food than the previous year, he said.
A mobile food bank giveaway in Spokane Aug. 23 gave roughly 1,000 pounds of beef roast and 7,000 pounds of fresh Washington produce to 250 families in need.
More perishable items are available for donation and close where Second Harvest can resource it.
“It’s very healthy and nutritious for our food bank clients,” he said, noting many are suffering from chronic illnesses. “To get this type of product to them, where they typically can’t afford it, that's a great outcome.”
Beef commission executive director Patti Brumbach said it's important for the industry to give back to the community, and put a face on Washington's farmers and ranchers.
Through the Beef Counts program, families in need get high-quality protein and producers meet with consumers, she said.
The industry has partnered with Spokane weatherman Tom Sherry's barbecue forecast and regional grocery store Rosauers, based in Spokane. A percentage of the beef purchased at Rosauers goes to Beef Counts, Brumbach said.
“It’s a win-win,” she said. “We sell beef and we provide for hungry families.”
William Heitner of Spokane waited in line at the mobile food bank. He’s been without an income due to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis for the last two-and-a-half years, and relies on his family for support. He planned to stretch the roast for several meals.
“I get $200 in food stamps and the price of groceries, it doesn't go very far,” he said. “It’s nice to actually have a cut of meat for a change. I’m very, very grateful.”