The Norman Transcript

September 27, 2013

Mormons ‘meat’ the need to fight childhood hunger

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Thanks to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Beef for Backpacks Program, chronically hungry Oklahoma students, who receive supplemental food from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Food for Kids Backpack Program, will have beef in their backpacks.

Through the Backpack Program, children receive a backpack full of kid-friendly, non-perishable and nutritious food on Friday to sustain them over weekends and school holidays.

The Regional Food Bank was eager to include a high-quality and consistent source of protein in the backpack, and thus the Beef for Backpack Program was created. The Regional Food Bank needs 52 cows each year to produce enough beef sticks for the program.

“Unfortunately, donations were diminishing for Beef for Backpacks and the program was nearly canceled,” said Michael Southward, an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “When the leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) heard of the problem, they were glad to help.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated 52 cows to the program from their ranch in Pawhuska. The Mormon Church also has committed at least five cows for next year, too.

With the Regional Food Bank, they hope that other corporate and private sponsors will join in the community effort to feed our neighbors.

“One hungry child is one too many,” said Rodney Bivens, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma executive director. “We want to thank the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for joining us in the fight against hunger. Their commitment to Oklahoma, and our children, will ensure that children will receive protein over weekends.”

The Beef for Backpacks program uses donated cattle to produce nutritious beef sticks for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Food for Kids program. More than 50 head of cattle and hogs are needed each year to provide enough beef and pork sticks for all of the students in the Food for Kids program.

To help sustain Beef for Backpacks and Pork for Packs, program participants are asking beef and swine producers to consider a commitment of at least one animal per year. The program accepts cattle, hogs and monetary donations.

All processing and delivery costs are covered by the Regional Food Bank and the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation.

Beef for Backpacks is collaboration among the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Beef Council, the Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Ralph’s Meat Company in Perkins and Chickasha Meats.

Cattle donations are deductible as a charitable donation to a 501(C)3 corporation, pursuant to IRS guidelines.

Livestock donation receipt amounts will be based on USDA daily market price. A Livestock Owner/Donor Certificate must be completed to receive a donation receipt.

For more information on how to donate, call Thad Doye at 523-2307 or email thad.doye@okfb.org.