Queensland Rotarians help feed Australia's poor
The Rotary Club of Brisbane Centenary, Queensland, Australia, launched the Beef Bank program by purchasing five cows and raising them on a member's property. The program has now grown into the main source for fresh meat for area charities. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Brisbane Centenary
World Food Day is 16 October, but the Rotary Club of Brisbane Centenary, Queensland, Australia, helps alleviate hunger all year through a program that provides meat to agencies serving the state's poor and homeless.
The club launched Beef Bank in 2007 after members heard a presentation on the scarcity of fresh meat for charities that feed the poor. The Rotarians purchased five calves and raised them on property owned by past club president Andrew Rodgers.
A local butcher helped slaughter one of the cows, and about 450 pounds of beef went to Foodbank, an organization that acts as a conduit between manufacturers with excess stock and people in need. The meat from that first cow provided 1,000 meals.
Since then, the program has expanded, becoming an exercise in fundraising, marketing, and logistics. Club members collect donations from other Rotarians, corporations, and private sponsors to purchase cattle, have them butchered, package the meat, and deliver it to Foodbank. The organization then distributes it to charities including Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, soup kitchens, and school lunch programs.
Cost of a cow
A donation of A$1,200 covers the purchase of a single cow. The club has set a goal of purchasing and processing 50 heads of cattle a year.
“Beef Bank plays a direct part in the health, nourishment, and well-being of thousands of men, women, and children within the community,” says Rodgers, who notes that Beef Bank has become one of the major sources of fresh meat for charities in the Foodbank network. Foodbank feeds 70,000 people a week in the greater Brisbane area.
To date, Beef Bank has provided nearly 20 tons of meat. The club plans to expand the program further by partnering with other nonprofit organizations.
“Even in a wealthy country such as Australia, there are many who need help,” says Past District Governor Nick Curry, a member of the Brisbane Centenary club. “We didn’t realize the sheer necessity of a project like this at first, but it’s now become a major part of the community.”
Since 1981, the United Nations has observed World Food Day to increase awareness and understanding, and stimulate year-round action to alleviate hunger. Here’s how other Rotary clubs are helping to fight hunger worldwide:
- The Rotary Club of Westville, South Africa, shipped 26 tons of food to FoodBank South Africa for distribution to poor families. A club member supplied trucks from his cargo business to transport the goods at no cost. The food was purchased from poor farmers in Jozini, providing them a source of income.
- The Rotary Club of Prapatan-Dharmawangsa, West Java, Indonesia, installed a hydroponic rooftop garden to provide fresh vegetables to a local orphanage, offering a supplementary food source for the children.
- After sending food and supplies to Bosnia-Herzegovina for years, the Rotary Club of Colli Briantei, Italy, conducted a study of its own population and found a growing hunger problem. Club members set up the Brianza for Food Project, raising money to buy two weeks' worth of food for 200 impoverished families. Rotarians stocked and delivered the goods.