Haggen, Food Lifeline and the Washington State Beef Commission are partnering to support the Beef Counts program, which provides families in need across western Washington with access to beef.
The partnership is projected to provide up to 600 hungry families and seniors with packages of beef, as well as produce and other perishable items.
“Our state is fortunate to have access to some of the highest quality beef in the nation with our local ranchers,” Clarence Gabriel, Haggen’s CEO, said in a March 28 press release. “It’s important that we do what we can so that more families who need this protein are able to enjoy it.”
Less than 2 percent of all food available through food banks in western Washington is protein, according to the release.
The Beef Counts program launched in Eastern Washington in 2010, and more than $182,000 worth of beef, equivalent to 346,000 servings, has been contributed.
“The success we’ve seen with this program has been fantastic,” said Jim Hinton, a Mt. Vernon rancher. “When we are able to distribute whole beef roasts to families along with vegetables and other essential ingredients for wholesome meals, you can feel the excitement not only from the families, but from the many ranchers and other volunteers who help distribute the food.”
The beef will be provided to Food Lifeline in family-size packs of round roasts, processed and packaged at a Toppenish, Wash processing facility owned by Agri Beef Co. Food Lifeline will then distribute the beef to its network of 300 local food banks, meal programs and shelters.
Each family receiving the beef will also receive a brochure that details proper cooking methods, healthy recipes, nutrition facts, and safe beef handling and storage information.
“We felt very strongly that we could make a difference in the severe lack of high quality protein available to families in need, if we could mobilize the entire industry behind the mission,” said Jay Theiler, executive director of marketing for Agri Beef Co.
About $20,000 worth of beef is expected to be contributed through Haggen and Top Food stores. This translates into about 2,535 family-sized portions, equivalent to 7,605 pounds.
“We need programs like this in our state to give people in need access to important protein,” said Ashley Gammell, Food Lifeline’s corporate relations manager. “Partnerships like this allow us to not only get quality food to hungry families, but also raise awareness of the need for protein as part of a balanced diet that can help these individuals thrive and succeed.”
More information on Beef Counts is available online at www.beefcounts.org.