Wagyu beef is fatty, tender, umami-rich and generally found at high-end steakhouses or as the final savory course in a Michelin-starred tasting menu. Now, because of Covid-19, huge quantities of the coveted beef will be available in San Francisco-area food banks.
Idaho-based beef purveyor Snake River Farms is donating 35,000 10-ounce steaks to Bay Area food banks, with a total value of $2 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It’s part of a larger initiative the company announced last week, which will send $8 million worth of its American wagyu to cities around the country to feed hospital workers, laid-off restaurant staff and other communities affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Snake River is relying on regional distribution partners in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and San Francisco to help them get their donation to nonprofits.
The bulk of Snake River Farms’ Bay Area contribution will go to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, along with other charities in and around the city like Meals on Wheels. A nonprofit started in response to the Covid-19 pandemic called TogetherSF has been coordinating distribution of the steak from Snake River Farms.
With restaurants closed, there’s a glut of meat and produce available, but in many cases, supply chains are buckling and unable to adjust. There are farmers around the country culling their herds and burying them because there aren’t slaughterhouses and processing plants to take the livestock. And as the Covid-19 crisis intensified, causing food bank demand to soar (up an average of 70 percent across the country), the Agriculture Department failed to act quickly to redirect surplus crops that had been destined for restaurants, letting millions of pounds of produce go to waste. In the case of the Snake River Farms wagyu, the regional partners aren’t just distributing the meat; they’re helping cut and package the steaks so they won’t be wasted. It’s making the best of a bad situation.