Local leaders say the past two years have presented challenges for 4-H youth that take on the endeavor of raising an animal to show for auction at the Santa Barbara County and California Mid-State fairs.
"There were quite a few kids that really struggled to find buyers and connect with people in the community to find buyers for their animals," said JoAnn Wall, Chairwoman of the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund (JWBYLF) Buyer's Coalition.
The group has worked to address this issue by purchasing meat from these fairs. They're lending a hand to 4-H members while also supporting another cause.
"It provides us with so much protein that we don't normally get," said Elias Nimeh, Executive Director for Meals that Connect, a local organization that provides free meals to seniors in San Luis Obispo County.
"I expect that the seniors will be eating very good quality beef all year."
He says the livestock auctions from the Santa Barbara County Fair alone brought in over 10,000 pounds of meat to their program.
"Those kids have an opportunity to be part of selling their animal and knowing that the meat that comes from the animal is going to go to the food insecure in their own communities," Wall added.
"It means that people can be generous and help feed the people that can't feed themselves," said Weston Burt, a 12-year old who has been raising a pig to show at this week's California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.
This is the first year the JWBYLF is donating protein to Meals that Connect, and Elias Nimeh says he couldn't be happier.
"A great thanks to James Brabeck and his foundation," Nimeh said. "As well as the children or the kids growing the beef, the pork, the lamb, the goats. It is such a great program."
Nimeh says he expects the donations from the Mid-State Fair will exceed the 10,000 pounds of meat that just came from the Santa Barbara County Fair.
He says the incoming protein will go a long way in feeding the 1,000 seniors they provide meals to every day.