A single 535 pound steer generated $31,832 at a fund-raising auction earlier this month to benefit Washington's Beef Counts program, created by the industry to provide nutritious beef to struggling eastern Washington families through Second Harvest food banks.
The contributions through local cattle ranchers and feeders raised tot total beef industry donations for the year to $107,427. The goal of Beef Counts is to provide the food bank with a steady supply of beef throughout the year. Launched in 2010, over 16,500 beef roasts have already reached those in need.
One hundred percent of the tax deductible donations to the project are used to provide beef to Second Harvest. Without the beef donation, only 4% of the food Second Harvest normally distributes will be protein, which equates to only .7 servings of protein per person – far below the USDA recommended 6 ounces of protein per day.
"We feel privileged to participate with the beef producers in Washington in the Beef Counts program," says Rick Stott, AgriBeef Co. executive vice president. "It is very gratifying to think that from the $107,000 that was raised in 2011, our industry will be able to provide over 200,000 beef meals to neighbors that are struggling to put food on their table. I am continually humbled by the generosity of the beef producers to those that are in need."
The auction rounded Beef Counts week, a series of mobile food distributions across eastern Washington where local farmers personally hand out the beef roasts to those in need. In four days, the producers participating in the event distributed 60,344 pounds to 1,555 families in need of food assistance. The events generated tremendous media coverage putting a positive face on Washington's beef industry.
"Here in eastern Washington, we raise millions of pounds of food, yet one in six of our neighbors go hungry, half of which are children and seniors," says Larry Olberding, president of the Washington Cattlemen's Association. "We know everyone needs the protein and nutrition in beef to be healthy and strong. Beef Counts makes it easy for producers to provide beef to those who need it, but are struggling."