Companies team up to supply food bank with protein

By CAROL RYAN DUMAS

Capital Press

Idaho's beef industry has united to help feed more than 110,000 Idaho children, families and senior citizens each month.

Members of the Beef Counts group, which include Agri Beef Co., Idaho Beef Council, Idaho Cattle Association and Idaho CattleWomen Council, will distribute the meat through the Idaho Foodbank.

The organizations will donate both cash and animals. Idaho's beef producers will donate animals to be auctioned at their local sale yard, with the money going toward beef purchases. Agri Beef will then match 50 percent of the contribution, bringing the total cash equivalent of an animal to approximately 1,600 servings.

The program kicked off April 14 at the J.D. Aldecoa ranch near Boise.

"We're getting a lot of calls and a lot of excitement from producers," said Wyatt Prescott, executive vice president of Idaho Cattle Association. "That speaks to their compassion to help someone in need."

Prescott said no goal has been set, and the program's future will be determined by its success this year.

"We'd like to continue it," he said.

Agri Beef Executive Vice President Rick Stott said the company has donated meat and cash to the foodbank for the past five years.

"It's one of those things we feel is pretty important," he said in an earlier interview. "The bottom line is we're trying to help out in a pretty tough time in the economy."

In December, Agri Beef donated 27,400 pounds of meat and $50,000 to the Idaho Foodbank. The company made an identical contribution to Spokane Second Harvest.

The Idaho Foodbank can only provide approximately 0.7 ounces of protein per day, per person. The USDA recommends 6 ounces of protein per day.

Anyone wishing to donate can contact Beef Counts at 208-343-1615 or 208-376-6004.

Seneca Foods makes record donation

Seneca Foods Corp., manufacturer of Libby's canned fruits and vegetables, will donate 5 million pounds of food to Feeding America.

It's the largest one-time donation of canned fruits and vegetables in Feeding America's history and comes at a critical time, said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of the hunger relief organization.

"With 49 million people struggling with hunger, our country is in crisis right now," Escarra said in a press release.

The donation from Seneca "will certainly make an enormous impact in fighting hunger in communities across the nation," she said.

Canned fruits and vegetables are among the most needed items because of their long shelf life and nutritional value, Escarra said.

Feeding America helps to supply a network of more than 200 food banks across the country.

The Idaho Foodbank received 283,000 pounds of canned food from the Seneca donation. The food came from two processing plants in Buhl and Payette, Idaho, and one in Modesto, Calif.

Seneca Foods operates processing plants in Idaho, Washington, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and New York.

-- Dave Wilkins

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