Oklahoma livestock producers help feed hungry children
Oklahoma livestock producers are joining the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and other groups focused on feeding hungry Oklahoma children with a new project, Beef for Backpacks. This project will use donated cattle to produce beef sticks for the Food Bank’s Food for Kids program.
The project was launched during a press conference with Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb at the state capitol, Sept. 25.
The Beef for Backpacks program is a collaboration among the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Beef Council, Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
The Food for Kids program was started by the Food Bank in 2003 when they recognized the need to help supplement children’s diets when the school lunch program was unavailable. The program provides chronically hungry children, identified by school personnel, with backpacks filled with non-perishable, kid-friendly food to eat on weekends and school holidays.
The program serves 475 elementary schools in 53 counties across central and western Oklahoma, providing backpacks to more than 13,500 chronically hungry children each week.
“We are excited by the opportunity to provide a nutritious source of protein to the children,” said Monica Wilke, executive director of the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation. “We estimate that between 20,000 and 25,000 beef sticks will be needed every month to supply all of the hungry children who currently benefit from the backpack program.”
Wilke said the project is a good example of the generosity and efficiency of Oklahoma livestock producers.
“I am constantly impressed by the generosity and overwhelming desire of our producers to help others,” Wilke said. “For every 100 pounds of beef donated, we’ll be able to produce 800 beef sticks to help feed Oklahoma children.”
Lt. Gov. Lamb praised farmers and ranchers for their efforts.
“You (livestock producers) are essential to the wellbeing of our state, and your passion to give back to your communities is admirable,” Lamb said. “For us to truly make a difference and take necessary steps toward ending hunger, it is imperative for more individuals and Oklahoma companies to dedicate themselves to helping their neighbors, just as you have.”
To donate cattle to the Beef for Backpacks program, contact OFB Vice President of Field Services Thad Doye at (405) 523-2307.