Three years ago, brothers Bill and Ron Kuchera started culling excess deer on their deer farm and donating the meat to food pantries.
Their good deed blossomed, with the pair then donating beef from the cattle they started to raise on their Richland Township farm to help feed the hungry.
Knowing the importance of having protein in one’s diet, with meat being a source, the brothers asked the United Way of the Laurel Highlands for support in expanding their program.
The United Way, in conjunction with the charity the Kuchera’s started to help the hungry, Please Help Inc., and many other organizations held a meeting Thursday at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center in Richland Township to discuss ways to provide beef to the hungry in Cambria and Somerset counties.
Ideas ranged from getting volunteers to help with the task of raising cattle to asking donations of beef from farmers and getting residents to support an Adopt-A-Cow program.
Local United Way President Bill McKinney said the first meeting of the Community Beef Initiative went better than expected.
The group is planning to support food pantries by providing beef, chicken and eggs to meet the needs of food pantries in Cambria and Somerset counties.
The Rev. Barry K. Ritenour, chairman of the Somerset County Mobile Food Bank, said the meeting was an excellent one.
“We’re looking at how are we going to get more food into the region,” he said.
It costs his food bank $2.40 to provide a family with about 40 pounds of produce and other foods.
Adding beef would greatly increase the cost to feed a family, he said about why it is important to get this program operating.
Sue Smith, of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, said the more energy they could generate around the issue of hunger, the more ideas they will have to solve the problem.
Food banks are important because the government is reducing the food-stamp program plus the working poor don’t quality for such programs.
Jim Buday, director of the juvenile justice program of the Alternative Community Resource Program, said his youths already volunteer to feed the hungry and would help with the beef initiative.
Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FrankNews10.