It’s the holiday season and merriment is in the air. The joy of Christmas is often coupled with helping those in need, and as the year comes to a close, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), its membership, and the beef industry as a whole is committed to giving back to the community.
Many families throughout Colorado will spend the holiday season with beef at the center of their table, but there are also many families who aren't as fortunate, and struggle to provide a healthy, nutritional meal every day. Entities are working continuously to ensure that the holidays—and every day—will be Better with Beef, especially for those in need.
In the state of Colorado, there are 360,000 kids on food support and oftentimes their only meals come from school. In fact, more than 18,000 Colorado kids go hungry on the weekends, and are especially deprived of the recommended daily allowance of protein that the Food and Drug Administration prescribes.
Hunger and food insecurity has become even more prevalent throughout Colorado and the nation in 2020, and the beef industry knew there was still work to be done.
KidsPak, a weekend student hunger relief program of the Loveland Rotary Club, has stepped up to the plate to help food-insecure children and their families this year. Beef Sticks for Backpacks (formerly Beef Bank Colorado), along with KidsPak of Loveland, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, Arcadia Asset Management, Colorado Livestock Association, Colorado Beef Council, Colorado State University, Weld County Food Bank, Better With Beef and countless other entities, are working together to ensure that kids across the state have access to food - especially beef, which is not only a tremendous source of protein, but offers other important vitamins and minerals that are key to learning and growing. This is where the “Beef Sticks for Backpacks” program was born.
The goal of the program is to raise funds that will be used to produce their very own Colorado “beef sticks” to be placed in the “pak” of every child involved in the program. So far, the program has successfully delivered 5,000 sticks per-week to backpack programs in Weld and Larimer County, but is also dedicated to expanding and creating the same opportunity for every hungry child in Colorado.
The program is one step closer to their goal, and just in time for the holidays, as Weld County Food Bank has recently partnered with beef sticks for backpacks. Having the food bank as a key partner will facilitate the production of more beef sticks, and in turn, feed more hungry children.
With Northern Colorado being serviced by the program, Mesa County and Morgan County are next on the radar for 2021. According to CCA’s President, Janie VanWinkle, who owns and operates VanWinkle Ranch in Fruita, Colorado, both the Mesa County Cattlemen’s and CattleWomen’s Associations have donated to the initiative. More information will be provided once the program has been cemented within those communities, with hopefully more to follow.
This year has been challenging, but as you gather around the table this week, remember to thank a rancher or farmer who made the meal possible. CCA is certainly thankful for its membership and beef producers who work tirelessly to provide a safe, wholesome product and who also give back to the community. Please consider donating to your local food bank so others can feel the magic and warmth of the holidays.
CCA wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and looks forward to serving Colorado’s beef producers and agricultural industry into the New Year, so that no matter what curveballs are thrown our way, every year is still truly #BetterwithBeef.
Want to contribute to Beef Sticks for Backpacks and help provide healthy and nutritious beef to hungry children? Visit www.beefsticks.org
Learn more about the Beef Sticks for Backpacks program here: https://www.beefsticks.org/blog/csu-industry-partners-provide-protein-for-colorado-children-in-need/