Haggen, Food Lifeline and Washington's Beef Community Join in Effort to Provide Families with Essential Protein

Families in Western Washington will benefit from Beef Counts as resources are raised through beef sales at Haggen/Top Foods throughout March

SEATTLE, Wash. - Haggen, Food Lifeline and the Washington State Beef Commission announced today their partnership as part of the Beef Counts program aimed at providing families in need across Western Washington with additional access to an essential protein – beef.  This is the first time Beef Counts has launched in Western Washington and the partnership is projected to provide up to 600 hungry families and seniors with packages of high-quality beef, as well as healthy produce and other perishable items in order to meet their nutritional needs.

Currently, less than 2% of all food available through food banks in Western Washington is protein.  In light of the USDA recommendation that individuals consume six ounces of protein per day to maintain good health, Beef Counts launched to join organizations that can help address this problem.

“Our state is fortunate to have access to some of the highest quality beef in the nation with our local ranchers,” said Clarence Gabriel, CEO of Haggen, “it’s important that we do what we can so that more families who need this protein are able to enjoy it.”

The Beef Counts program launched in Eastern Washington in 2010, and more than $182,000 worth of beef has been contributed, which is equivalent to 346,000 servings of beef. The program hopes to have the same success through partnership with Haggen and Food Lifeline in Western Washington.

“The success we’ve seen with this program has been fantastic,” said Jim Hinton, Mt. Vernon rancher. “When we are able to distribute whole beef roasts to families along with vegetables and other essential ingredients for wholesome meals you can feel the excitement not only from the families, but from the many ranchers and other volunteers who help distribute the food.”

The beef will be provided to Food Lifeline in family-size packs of lean and nutritious round roasts, processed and packaged by Agri Beef Co’s. Washington Beef processing facility, located in Toppenish, WA. Food Lifeline will then distribute this beef to its network of 300 local food banks, meal programs and shelters. Each family receiving the beef will also receive a brochure that details proper cooking methods, healthy recipes, nutrition facts, and safe beef handling and storage information.

“We felt very strongly that we could make a difference in the severe lack of high quality protein available to families in need, if we could mobilize the entire industry behind the mission,” said Jay Theiler, Executive Director of Marketing for Agri Beef Co.

About $20,000 worth of beef is expected to be contributed through Haggen and Top Food stores, the exclusive retailer of The Double R Ranch beef, which is a Beef Counts partner.  This translates into about 2,535 family-sized portions of beef, or 7,605 pounds of beef to meet the nutrition needs of hungry families across Western Washington.

“We need programs like this in our state to give people in need  access to important protein,” said Ashley Gammell, corporate relations manager for Food Lifeline. “Partnerships like this allow us to not only get quality food to hungry families, but also raise awareness of the need for protein as part of a balanced diet that can help these individuals thrive and succeed.”

About Haggen
Haggen, Inc. operates 28 supermarkets in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen Food & Pharmacy and TOP Food & Drug names. Headquartered in Bellingham, it is the largest independent grocer and sixth-largest private company based in the State of Washington. For more information, visit www.haggen.com and www.top-foods.com.

About the Washington Beef Commission
The Washington State Beef Commission is the beef promotion, research and consumer education arm of the state’s beef industry.  It is  funded entirely by the assessments of Washington’s over 9,000 family farmers and ranchers.  The program is also known as the Beef Checkoff program.

About Food Lifeline
Food Lifeline is a local hunger relief organization, efficiently serving the Western Washington area by using 96% of revenue to directly feed hungry people. Last year the organization delivered more than 27 million meals to hungry people through its network of nearly 300 food banks, meal programs and shelters. Food Lifeline is also a member of the national organization, Feeding America. For more information about Food Lifeline or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.foodlifeline.org or call 206-545-6600.