Kansas beef community to donate 2,000 beef servings to local food bank

Food insecurity, or not knowing where your next meal may come from, impacts more than 360,000 Kansans. Additionally, nearly 82 percent of food-insecure individuals report having to choose inexpensive, and often unhealthy, food options because they cannot afford healthier alternatives. This often results in a disproportionate number of food-insecure individuals suffering from chronic diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes. Members of the Kansas beef community will donate 2,000 servings of beef to Just Food Kansas in Lawrence Feb. 8. That same day, staff from the Kansas Beef Council will offer a hands-on cooking demonstration and provide tips regarding how beef can fit into a heart-healthy lifestyle.

The contribution will be provided by Cattle Empire and Beef Marketing Group. The cattle feeding companies issued a joint statement about the donation.

 “Beef plays a key role in providing protein for a healthy and balanced diet. We work hard to judiciously use our natural resources in order to provide beef at an affordable price so that it can be enjoyed by everyone. Rural America sustains when its residents focus on giving back, and it is an honor for us to join Just Food and the Kansas Beef Council to help make that a reality for Douglas County.”

Charitable contributions are common for the Kansas beef community. Surveys show more than 50 percent of U.S. farmers and ranchers routinely give back to their state and local communities through some form of service or charitable giving, compared to the national average of 7 percent for the general public.

Food banks are a vital resource for local communities. However, less than 11% of all food donations are high-quality protein like beef. While there may be a bump in food pantry donations during holiday periods, food banks often struggle to fulfill protein requirements for local communities during other times of the year.

Just Food Kansas Director of Volunteers and Community Engagement Elizabeth Stephens, said the beef donation is greatly needed and appreciated.

“We are able to not only provide beef to our clients, but we are also able to teach folks how to stretch their dollar and still have protein in their meal. Joining efforts with [Kansas beef producers] provides an opportunity for our clients and community to learn more about the beef community, an opportunity that is unique to this area of Kansas,” said Stephens.

In addition to the donation, Kansas Beef Council Director of Nutrition Abby Heidari, RDN, LD, will provide nutritional information on heart health to attendees during the hands-on cooking classes and recipe sampling. Recipe sampling will occur from 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cooking class will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Just Food, 100 East 11th in Lawrence. Clients can sign up for the cooking class in advance at Just Food.

“Just Food’s clients will gain insight into which cuts of beef are more economical, how to stretch the nutrition of ground beef in a recipe, and how to modify ground beef recipes to decrease calories and increase nutrients,” said Heidari.

Heidari will be sampling and sharing the recipe for an “Easy Skillet Chili Mac,” which contains a few standard ingredients commonly found in food pantries.

KBC funds programs in promotion, research, consumer education and producer communications through the $1 per head beef checkoff paid by producers.