Producer Partnership donates nearly 10,000 lbs of beef to local food banks

LIVINGSTON - A partnership out of Park County is feeding people in Livingston, but very shortly it will be feeding the entire Treasure State. 

The Producer Partnership has so far donated 10,000 pounds of beef to support the Livingston Food Resource Center. 

The goal organizers of the partnership have is to do even more not just right now but beyond COVID-19.

“You know when the shelter in place went into order,” Matt Pierson of Highland Livestock and an organizer of the Producer Partnership said, “a lot of people just didn’t have work anymore.”

According to Pierson the Livingston Food Resource Center started handing out as much food in one week as they normally would in a month.

Pierson jokingly said- I've got all this hamburger walking around, and he decided to put it to use.

By way of beef, the Livingston Food Resource Center was able to pass out around one pound a week, Pierson felt more could be done. 

“We started talking to the different food banks and the different people that provide meals and we just decided if we could provide them with the hamburger they could take the resources and move that elsewhere,” Pierson said. 

Right now, Pierson is donating cows from his heard along with other producers from the area to feed the community. 

Park County’s ranching community in total has donated more than 20 cows.

But with help from the Park County Community Foundation its not only keeping people in the area fed its helping generate income for people in the agricultural industry. 

Pierson explained that having the beef processed is expensive, and because of donations they're able to pay processors.

“This project to me highlights the strength of Park County,” Gavin Clark the Executive Director of the Park County Community Foundation said, “Our ability to rally around ourselves in a time of need... I think the Montana spirit.... and the Montana pioneering spirit is alive and well here in Park County.”

The Park County Community Foundation has raised $10,000 to help get this off the ground.

"Here in Park County.. the Producers Partnership brings together all walks of life in Park County," Clark said. 

Keeping the community fed right now is at the top of everyone’s priority list.

“On average, right now, we’re getting about 350 to 360 pounds of hamburger per animal,” Pierson said.  

Pierson identified through conversations with the Food Resource Center there's a drop-off in donations after the fall months, he'd like to implement this program to support food banks during the spring.

Now that there is a system in place, the goal is to take it out of Park County and implemented it across Montana.

“In Missoula they have room for about four semi loads of beef that they can freeze,” Pierson said, “I figured that would be a good start.” 

Pierson says that due to the ingenuity of the community in Livingston, this program will be easy to implement elsewhere. He's already has a detailed plan that will work as support for other producers in the state to implement.

“It's been really fun to have the ability to help people,” Pierson said. 

Pierson is still looking for cash donations and cattle donations. The goal here is not only to feed the community but keep producers and processors working at a part of the community during this difficult time.

Groups like the Montana Beef Council, the Montana Stockgrowers Association and Meals on Wheels are all involved in the project right now. 

If you would like to donate, you can follow these links: Park County Community Fund, Producers Partnership.

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