A 500-pound ground beef donation split between the Creemore and Angus food banks ensures they won’t soon be asking, “where’s the beef?”
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The Simcoe County Beef Farmers (SCBF) worked with Stayner Meat Packers, Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO), and Whitley Beef to provide the community food support with much-needed animal proteins.
“This donation will help feed the 125 families that make regular monthly visits for about four months,” said Elizabeth Mota-Kenney, Angus Food Bank volunteer. “(Especially as) we continue to see an increase of two to four families each week.”
SCBF farmers understand the pressures local food banks are under to supply nutrition protein meat products to a growing clientele, said Katherine Giffen, SCBF president.
She added that members voted unanimously during their annual general meeting to support the proposal.
Jim Whitley, of Whitley Beef and SCBF advisory councillor, pitched the idea and agreed to donate a cull cow for the event. He reached out to the BFO, the foodbanks and Stayner Meats to ensure everyone was onboard. A process he said went flawlessly from start to finish.
“Ground beef is a fresh, single-ingredient food that is not processed or fortified in any way. It’s packed with protein and is one of nature’s richest sources of iron, vitamin B12 and zinc,” said David Millsap, BFO director and Simcoe County beef farmer. “We are happy to be able to provide this nutritious, versatile, locally raised staple food to our neighbours in need.”
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Stephen Kenney, Angus Food Bank volunteer, said it would cost upwards of $1,500 to buy 250 pounds of ground beef, and now that money is freed up to invest in other perishables.
Given Stayner Meats is booking into 2025, he thought that might be the biggest hurdle, but they went above and beyond to get the cow processed.
“Willy, (Stayner’s) head butcher, was doing it late Friday,” Whitley said. “They didn’t squeeze it in; they expanded their hours to do it for us.”
Whitley hopes SCBF and its members will discuss if this could be an annual event or stretch to include a spring and fall donation, but it comes down to how significant the financial commitment is.
Whitley and his wife chose to take a portion of the compensation offered for the cow, leaving the rest as their donation.
He knew donating was a feel-good way for local beef producers to support the community, but he’s gotten much more out of the experience.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount about food banks and how they work. I had no idea the impact they have on as many people as they do in the community,” he said. “I really got my eyes opened about the extent and how far it can go.”
The Angus facility has freezer storage, but the Creemore food bank works out of the church, so Whitley and his wife Myrna will store their beef and deliver it as needed.
“This donation of ground beef is a much-needed support for our foodbank,” said Lorna May Lowe, coordinator of Creemore’s food bank.
“We are striving to offer healthy food choices weekly. This donation will also support our monthly educational component Soup for the Soul, encouraging each other as we learn food facts.”