JBS donation provides beef to America’s hungry
March 4, 2011
According to the latest USDA census, less than 2 percent of the American public is directly involved in production agriculture. This small group is responsible for feeding the rest of the country and much of the world. With a growing population, the job of producing food will become more important as global demand will more than double by 2050.
Although the U.S. is considered a place where food is in abundance, in 2009, more than 50 million Americans were “food insecure” and did not have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. In an effort to raise awareness about the growing issue of food security and demonstrate the beef industry’s commitment to help fight hunger, Greeley, CO-based JBS teamed up with ranchers during the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention to make the largest-ever donation and delivery of 16,000 lbs. of beef to Colorado’s Feeding America Food Banks.
Kevin Seggelke, Executive Director of the Food Bank of the Rockies based in Denver, CO, said of the donation, “Beef is gold to us.” It’s nutrient-rich, it’s high-quality protein, which is particularly critical for those people who are food insecure and may not know where their next meal is coming from.”
“We, as the largest protein company in the world, are very serious about bringing attention to the issue of food insecurity not only in our own community but across the U.S. and the entire world,” said Steve Williams, JBS. “In 2010 we donated nearly 30,000 pounds of food, which went directly to families in need. High-quality and nutritionally-efficient foods such as beef, are important to help meet daily nutritional requirements, iron and zinc deficiencies are common worldwide and beef is a good source of iron and an excellent source of zinc. At JBS we strive to provide nutritious food to feed the growing world population.”
Feeding America is the largest food bank program in the U.S. with more than 250 food banks throughout the country. The Food Bank of the Rockies, which provided 76,000 meals a day in 2010, divided and distributed the donation to five Feeding America member food banks. Helping to deliver the beef alongside JBS were many ranchers including Kansas beef producer, Debbie Lyons-Blythe.
“Helping with the donation was a great experience to see the warehouse and how the food is handled in this monumental effort of feeding the hungry,” said Lyons-Blythe. “I think it was good for all of us to connect with others who do such a great job every day of the week to feed Americans. With the growing global population, food producers are finding new ways to produce more food with the same amount of resources. Farmers and ranchers are usually small town folk, and are accustomed to helping out people in need. This donation would not be possible without a company like JBS. Each of us can make a local donation to individuals or food banks, but to reach this number of people, we needed a larger entity.”
Lyons-Blythe hopes to encourage other producers to get involved in efforts like this, and she offered advice on how to get started.
“Farmers and ranchers can contact their state beef councils or NCBA-affiliate associations and encourage a coordinated donation like this,” advised Lyons-Blythe. “On a smaller, more personal scale, if you butcher and have some beef left over, contact a local food bank to see if they accept frozen meat. This is an excellent way to make sure that people get the important nutrients that beef provides.”
She firmly believes in this mission to feed the world. Not only is she a beef producer, but her charitable actions are contagious. She hopes to share the value of cost-effective, nutrient-dense lean beef with others.
“Hunger doesn’t take a day off, and neither do ranchers,” said Lyons-Blythe. “We must work every day to care for our livestock and provide a safe, nutritious food supply to feed the world. We must all work together to make sure that no child goes to bed with an empty stomach in our country. Especially in difficult financial times, the level of nutrition may slip. It seems easy and cost effective to cut back on meat because it is often the costlier item on the plate. Beef is a nutrient-dense package that is actually very cost effective. We can ensure that kids get the nutrition they need through lean beef.”
The entire beef industry is committed to working together to produce high-quality, nutritious beef. Doing what’s right by making charitable donations to those in need is the natural extension to what producers are already doing to feed the world.
editor’s note: to learn more about feeding america, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org.