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Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry

“MEAT! MEAT! MEAT!” by Rick Wilson

A couple of years after Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry began, I visited Bethel AME, a church in Baltimore, to help serve venison spaghetti to those who needed it most. Also helping was Bill Ewing, the Executive Director of the Maryland Food Bank. I asked him what he found to be the most needed food for the hungry. I have never forgotten his answer, “I recently sent out a survey asking for the top 10 most needed food products; and the top 3 listed were MEAT, MEAT, and MEAT!”

As you read the following excerpts from an article from America's largest food gathering organization, Feeding America, you will see that this need is as great as ever.

“Meating” the Client Need for Protein January 17, 2015 by Karen Hanner

… It’s a fact that animal protein products and other grocery items high in protein are donated less frequently than other items like snacks and cereal. During the holidays, the people we serve are often more likely to get protein as special effort is put towards donating holiday meals. But it is important that

people facing hunger get a balanced diet all year round.

While Americans consume over 326 billion pounds of protein each year, food banks only receive enough protein to represent 1 percent of their total distribution. Sure, I realize that the people we serve don’t only rely on food banks and can use their own money to buy protein to supplement the food bank’s food, but I also know from shopping for groceries, that if I had a limited budget each month it would be hard to buy enough meat, eggs and dairy given how expensive those items are.

The expense of these items also explains why they are seldom donated and when they are, why they are offered at smaller quantities. All forms of animal protein are expensive, so the industry gets the most out of every animal produced. Sausage uses scraps, pet food uses trimmings and rendering converts the remaining inedible parts into sauces and flavorings. Very rarely is there unsellable beef, chicken, pork, fish or eggs, which is the major source of food donation across the country.

… Which means that our teams have to source animal protein for donation in creative ways all year round. We are getting better – and we are very appreciative of partners in the industry that are willing to help find creative ways to get more protein to hungry people too.

… Food banks should be able to offer all types of snacks, cereal and beverages throughout the year just like a supermarket. But also, like the corner grocer, we should offer sufficient quantities and varieties of protein to provide a balanced, or even low-carb diet.

So while my personal new year’s resolution will focus on more protein and fewer carbs, so will my professional resolution. And I hope that others will continue their support of this important professional resolution.

(Karen Hanner is the Managing Director of Manufacturing Partnerships at Feeding America)

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