Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig have launched the Beef Up Iowa program to connect Iowa beef producers with food insecure Iowans. The program is a partnership with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University and Iowa’s beef producers, and is an initiative of Gov. Reynolds’ Feeding Iowans Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, according to a Department of Agriculture release.
Through the program, students and staff at Iowa State University will process cattle from Iowa beef producers who have limited processing options due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meat will be distributed to food bank and food pantry feeding programs across the state. The initial cattle for Beef Up Iowa will be sourced from Iowa 4-H and FFA members.
“From family farms to the grocery store shelves, to our family’s dinner table, our entire food supply chain has been impacted by COVID-19,” said Gov. Reynolds in the release. “Beef Up Iowa brings high quality, nutritious beef to families in need of food security. I want to thank Iowa’s beef producers and generous members of the community who are all stepping up to help Iowans in need.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on the importance of Iowa agriculture and how our agriculture community continues to rise to the challenge of feeding those in need,” said Secretary Naig in the release. “This program is a unique opportunity to deliver beef raised by 4-H and FFA members and processed by Iowa students to feeding programs across the state.”
Beef Up Iowa will officially begin on July 1 when the first cattle are delivered. Processing will continue through the summer and for as long as funds remain. The beef will be distributed through the Iowa Food Bank Association and the six Iowa food banks that service the state.
Dr. Dan Thomson, chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University, said the program is based in service and in line with the university’s land grant mission.
“We are pleased to partner to serve Iowans in need,” said Thomson in the release. “We have faculty, staff, and students involved in the process. A program like this not only allows us to serve our neighbors, it also offers hands-on learning to future meat scientists who may be inspired to open their own processing facilities in the future.”
How to Get Involved
Iowa food banks and food pantries have seen increased demand due to the pandemic while processing options for Iowa beef producers have decreased. Gov. Reynolds has allocated federal CARES Act funds from the state to help cover processing costs and provide beef to food insecure Iowans. However, there are costs associated with purchasing cattle, and the storage, transportation and delivery of the beef to food banks and pantries.
To donate funds to help support this program, visit the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation at donorbox.org/beefupiowa.
A summary of food resources available to those in need is available at coronavirus.iowa.gov.