By Randy Arrington
LURAY, April 13 — Farm Ministry made its third charitable trip to Page County on Thursday, donating 200 pounds of ground beef split between Page One’s food bank and the Page Alliance for Community Action’s Porch Visits program.
“In a continued effort to connect local individuals and families with high quality protein sources, Rockingham Cooperative and Page Cooperative have partnered to distribute 200 pounds of ground beef, sourced in Page County, through two local non-profit organization,” reads a press release sent out by the Dayton-based organization.
The Farm Ministry has several specialty divisions that focus on the distribution of various products such as beef, pork and cheese. Four years ago during a difficult time in the dairy industry, Rockingham Cooperative partnered with local food pantries, churches and businesses to create the Cheese Ministry. The idea was to generate funding to support the production of cheese that would then be distributed to those most in need. The program created a new market for farmers, while also helping stock the shelves of local food banks.
Since 2018, the Cheese Ministry has delivered more than $1 million of high-quality dairy products to dozens of communities across Virginia. The initial program was so successful, it soon lead to the formation of the Beef Ministry and Pork for the Pantry operating under the same concept through the umbrella organization known as The Farm Ministry.
“Page Cooperative is pleased to be in a position to continue our support of the Beef Ministry in Page County,” said Darrell Hulver, Farm Ministry volunteer and general manager of Page Cooperative.
“This program aligns with our mission by helping those in need in our community grow,” Hulver continued. “These two organizations fulfill a great need within the Page County community and we are blessed to be able to help them in their efforts.”
The non-profit’s first donation effort in Page County came in December of 2021, followed by a second donation the next December. Each time, a key partner has been Burner’s Beef. While the Page County producer is paid for his product, Burner could potentially get more for his meat on the open market. Yet as a member of both neighboring cooperatives, he maintains his partnership with the Beef Ministry because he knows it’s going to help local people.
“When I started, I wanted to know that it was going to people who really needed it and appreciated it,” said Jared Burner, owner of Burner’s Beef, “and with Page One and PACA’s Porch Visits…I think it’s getting there.”
As the Page County farmer makes his statement, Page One’s new director, Justin Horn, assures him that the need is there and that this donation will help feed the 60 families they serve weekly at the local food bank, as well as 30 or more families that get food delivered to them on Wednesdays and Fridays. Horn also added that there’s been a recent uptick in need since SNAP benefits ended.
“I love to get feedback that it got to the right people,” Burner added.
Burner’s Beef has now donated 600 pounds of premium ground beef to the local food bank and other outreach programs since Farm Ministries came to Page County a little over a year ago. The key to the program’s success has been the strength of partnerships between the two cooperatives and businesses like Burner’s Beef and other sponsors, according to Adam Ford, Rockingham Cooperative’s Marketing Manager and Farm Ministry volunteer.
“Page is one area that we wanted to expand into and we were committed to that, and we will continue to look for ways to expand whether it’s in new pounds or new communities as long as the need is there,” Ford said. “We have a great partnership with Page Cooperative and there are a lot of producers in Page that are members of both.”
To learn more about the non-profit program visit the The Farm Ministry website.