Innovative solution to protein gap

Better Burger: Fighting Hunger, Improving Nutrition, Rebuilding Lives

The Better Burger aims to provide a nutritious, low-cost protein source for the emergency food system while engaging incarcerated youth in a vocational education program that provides hope for their future.

$150,000 is needed to fund necessary equipment, curriculum, ingredients, and staff for the Better Burger.  

About Marion-Polk Food Share

As the regional food bank serving Marion and Polk counties since 1987, Marion-Polk Food Share collects, stores, and distributes emergency food supplies for a network of 100 nonprofit member agencies. Our mission is leading the fight to end hunger in Marion and Polk counties…because no one should be hungry. 

Last fiscal year, more than 8 million pounds of food filled 108,248 emergency food boxes—an increase of 22% over the previous year and a 78% increase over the past five years. MPFS currently serves over 38,000 individuals monthly with food boxes, including more than 16,000 children.

Feeding 1 in 5 Marion & Polk Families

Hunger, poverty, and obesity persist in Marion and Polk counties. There are 63,460 individuals estimated to be food insecure. In 2011-12, nearly 40,000 school children were eligible for the free/reduced-price meal program —60% in Marion County and 53% in Polk County. In Marion County, 26% of children are living in poverty, with 22% in Polk County. More than 30% of adults in Marion and Polk counties are obese. 

MPFS understands the negative health consequences of diets high in calories, fat, and sugar. MPFS has focused on providing core nutritious foods to meet USDA daily nutritional requirements, and in 2010 built a Community Kitchen for food product development, nutrition education, and cooking classes.

Building a Better Burger

The Better Burger, a vegetarian protein patty, was created in the MPFS Community Kitchen. After 50-plus trials, the final Better Burger recipe is free of major allergens, high in essential amino acids, and delivers 7 grams of protein. It includes: quinoa, lentils, oats, brown rice, flaxseed, carrots, onions, spices, salt, and water.

Small-scale production began in November 2012 at MPFS. Dedicated volunteers, dubbed Team Protein, have helped perfect the recipe, refine production steps, and supply burgers for pilot distribution to select food pantries where product feedback is gathered.

Partnership with Oregon Youth Authority

The Better Burger is destined for large-scale production in cooperation with OYA. This win-win arrangement offers vocational training for incarcerated youth and a steady supply of Better Burgers for distribution to hungry local families. 

In the first year, MPFS anticipates production of 500,000 burgers for distribution to local hungry families. Up to 3 million burgers will be produced annually thereafter as part of this new vocational education program.

20 youth per year will participate in the vocational program annually. They will leave OYA with job skills and links to internships/employment that will give them opportunity for a positive future.

Your support helps innovate an end to hunger.

$150,000 will fund necessary equipment, curriculum, ingredients, and staff to produce, package, and deliver nutritious Better Burgers to local hungry children, families, and seniors.

For more information or to make a gift to the Better Burger project, please contact Kim Hanson or Sarah Grosvenor.