HELENA — Helena Food Share was among the selected food banks to receive proteins from The Producer Partnership, a nonprofit, that donated over 40,000 pounds, or 20 tons, of meats across the Montana Food Bank Network.
The Producer Partnership works with farmers and ranchers across Montana to process donated livestock.
Since it was founded in 2020, they have donated nearly 250,000 pounds of meat to the Montana Food Bank Network, and other charities in Montana.
For President and Founder of Producer Partnership Matt Pierson, this was not something he saw growing as big as it has.
"The mission statement is so simple, and it's sort of all-encompassing, and, you know, for us to get to where we are today, to be able to donate this much and to continue to have the impact that we're going to have is huge," said Pierson.
The Producer Partnership is the first federally inspected, nonprofit-owned, and operated processing facility in the United States, and Pierson says that it has the potential to keep growing.
"We're in a state with 3 million cows. 8% of those get culled out every year. That's 240,000 animals that leave the state of Montana. They get processed elsewhere, and shipped out. We're looking for less than half of a percent of those culls. We're looking for about a thousand animals a year. That would net us well over 400,000 pounds annually that we could put back into food banks, schools, anybody in need. I mean, the impact the potential impact that we have is enormous," said Pierson.
On Wednesday morning, they donated 2,400 pounds of USDA-inspected pork and beef to Helena Food Share.
"This has a big, big impact. We're going to get 60 cases of ground meat, a combination of beef and pork, and it allows us to really help a lot of programs," said Helena Food Share Program Operations Director Kim Dale.
A more specific program they utilized on Wednesday was Helena Food Share's Senior Commodity Program, where they gave a couple of pounds of the donated meat they received, to each senior that came by, but the benefit does not only help there.
"So that's going to last us almost a month here at Helena Food Share being able to put that out in our grocery share program," said Dale.
The producer partnership's next stop on Wednesday was Great Falls, to Conrad, and then Browning in their donation trip around the state. In their three-day venture, the donations will reach ten total locations within the Montana Food Bank Network below:
Day 1 - Tuesday 9/26
- Family Service Inc – Billings
- Gallatin Valley Food Bank – Bozeman
- Butte Emergency Food Bank – Butte
Day 2 - Wednesday 9/27
- Helena Food Share – Helena
- Salvation Army – Great Falls
- Pondera Food Pantry – Conrad
- FAST Blackfeet Food Pantry – Browning
Day 3 - Thursday 9/28
- Flathead Food Bank – Kalispell
- MFBN (Missoula)
- Vets Food Pantry – Deer Lodge
Peirson also shared with MTN that Producer Partnership already has plans to continue growing their processing facility, by helping provide quality meats for schools across the state.
"So phase two for us will be between an eight and a ten million dollar expansion, with the main goal of being able to produce ready-to-eat food for all the schools," said Pierson, "So right now, the number is scary, it's like over 87% of all the schools in Montana are reheating-only kitchens. So, sending them a raw product won't do the job. So we need to be able to figure out ways to make sure that it's prepared and ready to go and it's good for the children.