As the world grapples with the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, we must not only consider the immediate implications of this novel virus, but we must also think about the unintended consequences of shutting down businesses, schools and social gatherings.
Suicide. Drug and alcohol abuse. Depression. Anxiety. Financial insecurity. Loneliness. Isolation. Food insecurity. And the list goes on.
Now that schools are back in session for much of the country, I am somewhat breathing a sigh of relief knowing that the food insecure children who likely didn’t have access to decent meals during the lockdown now have free or reduced-cost lunches and breakfasts available to them during the school week.
This crisis has laid bare the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable, and when it comes to our youth, I believe no child should be hungry in the United States of America. Yet, the sad reality is that one in four children go to bed hungry each night.
One organization is dedicated to tackling this issue head on. I’ve written about them before, but I will continue to sing the praises of the Snack Pak 4 Kids (SP4K) program.
Last week, beef and dairy producers raised over $80,000 for SP4K’s Beef Stik program. The money will provide beef sticks to hungry students through the Snack Pak weekend hunger program. The check was presented at the second annual Beef 4 Kids Classic golf tournament.
Dyron Howell of Amarillo, Texas, SP4K founder, said, “Our local agriculture community continues to step up to serve their communities. This year, we served 60% more kids due to the economic impact of COVID. We expect that trend to continue throughout the school year.”
So what is the SP4K Beef Stik program?
Created in October 2017, the program is designed to provide more protein for hungry students in the Texas Panhandle. The program provides foods for kids to eat during the weekends when school is not in session.
“When we first started this program, kids would get about 10-12 grams of protein in their bags each weekend, which is woefully inadequate. Today, kids are getting 68 grams of protein in their bags. This is protein they desperately need to be successful both at home and school,” Howell said.
“TCFA is grateful for the strong partnership with Snack Pak and the opportunity it has provided the beef community to help provide high quality beef to students in our communities,” said Wayne Craig, Cactus Cares executive director and chair of TCFA’s industry relations committee. “Cattle feeders have a commitment to serve our community, and it has been an honor to be a part of this partnership to reach out and help our neighbors.”
So what can you do to get involved with the SP4K Stik Program? Here’s how you can help:
1. Share the Snack Pak and Beef Stik story on your social media channels.
2. Donate monetarily to the Beef Stick program.
3. Sponsor your community or a local child.
To learn more about this program and ways you can get beef protein in the hands of our food insecure, click here.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.