By: Kelli Conway & Sydney Bartels
Silver Lake Schools has begun the Nebraska Beef in Schools program by bringing locally raised beef to the school lunch program. This program was designed to promote Nebraska beef as well as encourage beef education and nutrition throughout the Nebraska Schools. This program also helps students and community members gain an understanding of the importance of agriculture in our community and our world.
This is a joint project for cattlemen, business owners, and the community to strengthen our bond with the school system. Operating under the Silver Lake Public School Foundation, a beef booster committee has been established to put this plan into action by assisting in bringing healthy, nutritious, flavorful beef to the students at both the elementary and high schools. Beef booster committee members are Todd Bartels, Terry Bauer, Kelli Conway, Amber Gibson, Jeannie Kral, Tori Karr, Trevor Karr, and Cory Parr. All donations to the program will be tax-deductible whether the donation is cash or live beef, and receipts will be issued to the contributors. If a person would like to donate a live animal, please contact a committee member to inquire about upcoming appointments. Donors will be recognized by different donation levels on a sign at both locations as well as other media outlets. There are five different donation levels: Beef Booster ($0-249), Select Choice ($250-499), Choice Level ($500-999)l Prime Level ($1,000+), and Producer Level (Beef).
The program is in need of live beef donations and monetary donations to pay for the processing costs. The beef booster committee is estimating the need for 12 animals per year and around $7500 in processing costs. The beef will be processed into ground beef, roasts, and hamburger patties. Beef can be a fattened calf or a cull cow as ground beef is used in a majority of the school menu items. We ask that cull cows have been fed grain for at least 30 days before going to the packer, to increase marbling and enhance the flavor. Donated meat must be slaughtered, processed, and packaged in a USDA federally inspected facility to be utilized in the school lunch program. Both Kensington Locker in Kensington, Kansas, and Steak Masters in Elwood, Nebraska, have been used as USDA-certified processing plants. To keep a steady supply of local beef in the school, the committee has secured some standing appointments. Superintendent, Mr. Bauer, thinks the program is going excellent. He commented, “I think there has been a lot of good contribution, from donations of beef to purchases of raffle tickets. I think the kids really enjoy having home-grown beef in school.”
Through the Silver Lake Beef in Schools program, we hope to help school-aged children learn about where their beef comes from and how to make informed choices. Learning things early such as where your food comes from, how it is grown, who raises it, and how it is processed can only help secure the future of agriculture in Nebraska. A big thank you to those who have donated to the program as well as to the committee members!