All-American Beef Battalion feeds thousands of workers in Texas
Hurricane Harvey swept along the coastal area of Texas on Aug. 25. With 54 counties, 352 miles and 1.2 million beef cows (about 27 percent of the state’s herd) declared in the disaster zone, the agricultural community has been scrambling to regroup and recover in the aftermath of the devastating storm.
Bill Broadie, of Ashland, Kan., felt moved to do something for the ranchers in Texas.
“When the wildfires impacted my community earlier this year, the amount of help and support we received was tremendous,” he said. “I wanted to do something to give back to others who are going through a similar crisis situation.”
The Kansas cattleman and Vietnam war veteran has a great platform to quickly and effectively offer assistance to those in need. His non-profit organization, the All-American Beef Battalion, has served more than 400,000 steaks to the troops since 2007, and for Broadie, it made perfect sense to utilize the AABB’s cooking equipment to feed hungry people in the Houston area.
“Our crew headed to Houston on Sept. 2, and we had a lot of help over the Labor Day weekend,” Broadie said. “National Beef Packing Company donated a semi-load of beef, and Cargill donated 30 cases, with more coming this week. So far, we’ve cooked more than 35,000 burgers with 90,000 total distributed to other cooking facilities in the Houston area.”
AABB volunteers have set up camp in the parking lot of the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo grounds, and they’re offering a hot meal to first responders, the National Guard, families at evacuation centers and members of the Cowboy Church, who are working tirelessly to locate and return missing cattle.
“We want to say thank you to all of the people who have helped and are still helping,” said Mike Arnold, a Texas rancher and AABB board member. “I can’t possibly name them all, but I first and foremost want to thank God for the people he has put in our path to help, including National Beef Packing, Cargill Protein, Superior Livestock Auction, National Credit Corp., Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the SumaGrow staff, Texas Aggie Cattle Women, Kansas Livestock Association, Scott Ford, and countless others.”
In addition to grilling burgers for those in need, AABB also has helped round up much-need items for affected families including water bottles, baby formula, clothes, diapers, soap, cleaning supplies, toothpaste and toothbrushes, flip flops, feminine products, shampoo and conditioner, bug spray and toilet paper.
“Some of these folks lost everything except the clothes on their back,” Broadie said. “Some folks still can’t get to their homes. Thankfully, Mike had the contacts down here to help get us rolling, and although we’re a little shorthanded on volunteers now that the long weekend is over, we are thankful for the continued support from the industry.”
Broadie said now that the Red Cross has pulled out of the area and has moved to Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, they are more committed than ever to stay put and continue to help as needed.
“A lot of our help had to go back to work, but I’ll stay here as long as I’m needed,” Broadie said. “I’m concerned about the major resources that will be diverted to Hurricane Irma. These people here still need so much help. This area is a long way from recovery, and any support we can offer will be important. It’s been hot and muggy down here, but where we are located is far from the impacted areas. Our delivery crew has seen some of the devastation, and much of the region is still underwater. News is spreading about what we’re doing through word-of-mouth, and one volunteer had access to a helicopter, so we were able to fly some food in to a heavily impacted area.”
The AABB has three cookers that can cook more than 1,500 burgers at one time, and Broadie said they are thankful for the donations of buns, chips and water to go with the beef.
“We’ll be getting all-beef hotdogs donated later this week, so we’ll keep grilling until we no longer have any meat left,” Broadie said. “We’re grateful for the runners we have taking the food out where ever it’s needed. It’s been a team effort.”
Nancy Gill, director of sales and marketing for Superior Livestock, also is asking viewers on Facebook for help locating fencing supplies, hay, equipment, feed or volunteer hours.
“Nancy has been important in helping to spread the word and promote what we’re doing out here,” Broadie said.
“We have fed people from Lockport to Sulphur, La.” Gill said.
“The AABB has been busy helping our fellow Americans,” Arnold added. “We continue to seek donations of time, supplies or money — no donation is too small.”
For ranchers who would like to help other ranchers in this effort from afar, they can donate directly to http://www.steaksfortroops.com.
Anyone wanting to provide boots-on-the-ground help can contact Arnold at (979) 732-7679. Logistics can be difficult getting into the area, and volunteers should bring extra fuel along with them.
Additionally, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has resources for those in need, as well as information for ways to help, which can be found at http://www.tscra.org/hurricaneupdate.
“The AABB will continue to help those in need, and once we’re no longer needed in Texas, we’ll get back to doing what we do best, honoring the men and women who serve our country by saying thank you with a steak supper they can enjoy with their families,” Broadie said. “We can fight about politics all we want in this country, but when it comes down to it, this is where Americans come together to help one another.” F
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