Beef to School
Montana is home to over 2.5 million cows; that’s more than twice the number of residents living in our state! With cow-calf operations weighing in as the second largest agricultural commodity in Montana, it only makes sense for schools and other institutions to purchase and serve beef that’s raised and finished in Montana.
The Montana Beef to School Coalition has the goal of helping schools and producers make connections with each other and overcome barriers to serving local beef. Formed in July 2013, coalition members collaborate on research, education, and outreach related to beef to school with the hopes of supporting healthy Montana children, vibrant rural communities, and strong local economies.
The coalition is made up of over thirty different stakeholders including ranchers, meat processors, foodservice directors, non-profit organizations, the Montana Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Public Instruction. To learn more about the coalition and how you can be involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Montana Beef to School Fact Sheet
The Montana Beef to School (B2S) Project is a three-year collaborative project between beef producers and processors, schools, researchers at Montana State University, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana Department of Agriculture, and various community partners whose goal it is to increase the use of local beef in every Montana school. We will be looking into ways that beef to school can benefit schools, ranchers, and local meat processors, as well as highlight best practices from Montana communities. In the meantime, we have suggestions to help get you started on bringing Montana beef into your school. Follow the link in the header to view this fact sheet and learn how to get started today! Stay tuned as we work through this process and continue to provide you with best practice guidelines.
Montana Beef to School: Five Profiles
More than a dozen Montana schools are purchasing local beef for school cafeterias. This practice has the potential to increase kids’ understanding of Montana’s ranching heritage and where their food comes from, while also providing economic support for local ranchers, meat processors, and agricultural communities. Read on to learn about the various methods of beef to school efforts that are bringing Montana beef to Montana kids.
Montana Beef In Schools 2012
What is the difference between wet-aged and dry-aged beef? What state-inspected meat processor is closest to your school? Developed by the Montana Department of Agriculture, this document is a guide to sourcing Montana raised and finished beef for your institution.
Montana Beef to School Video
Montana’s 2012-2013 FoodCorps Fellow Lea Howe put together this video that demonstrates the growing efforts to serve local beef in Montana’s school cafeterias.
Mooove over veggies, farm to school in Montana has a new face, and it looks a lot like a cow. Thanks to funding from a Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program) grant, several partners from across the state of Montana will be working together to understand the ins and outs of sourcing local beef for K-12 schools across the state.
With far more cows than people, Montana is the ideal place to explore the potential benefits of a beef to school program. There are several foodservice directors, ranchers, and processors who are already championing the local beef effort and serving delicious Montana-grown meals in cafeterias. Others in the industry are interested in doing the same. Many schools are excited about the potential to provide nutritious, Montana agricultural products to students while supporting their neighbor’s ranch and community’s meat processing facility by buying local beef.
While some schools and producers have already developed a beef to school program that is mutually beneficial, others have struggled to find a price point, delivery system, or sourcing method that works well for all parties involved. Funds from the SARE grant will be used to research and report successful models and effective strategies for beef to school programs. This information will be used to increase the availability and consumption of local beef in Montana’s schools and communities and help improve Montana beef producers’ and meat processors’ viability and sustainability.
This project will begin with case study research to identify the benefits, challenges, best practices, and gaps that exist for beef to school models. From there, the team will seek to identify beef supply chain issues (e.g., timing, storage, and use of cuts) that impact the success of stakeholders and work collaboratively with these stakeholders to plan solutions. Next, the team will obtain data about student acceptance of the local beef being served in comparison with commercial beef supplies. From this research and with the help of all involved stakeholders, the team will create stakeholder specific educational guides and promotional materials about the beef supply chain, curriculum for students, and peer reviewed publications. Finally, the team will conduct trainings to assist producers and their processing partners interested in selling to schools, and to foodservice directors interested in using local beef in school meals.
The grant team is led by Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks of Montana State University and includes Thomas Bass and Joel Schumacher of MSU Extension, Karla Buck of Bear Paw Meats, Katie Halloran of National Center for Appropriate Technology, Jennifer Montague of Kalispell Public Schools Foodservice, Garl Germann of Montana Meats, Jeremy Plummer of Lower Valley Processing, John Polacik of Park High School Foodservice, Aubree Roth of Montana Team Nutrition and members of the Montana Beef to School Coalition.
Byker Shanks reports, “The recently published 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlights that beef production has a potentially large impact on the environment. In Montana and beyond, it is important to support beef production through efforts such as beef to school programs. Beef to school programs have the potential to impact the environment, economics, and social aspects including human health.”
If you would like to learn more and stay updated on this exciting project, be sure to like and share the Montana Beef to School Facebook page, follow us on twitter (@MTBeeftoSchool), and look for quarterly blog posts on the Beef to School website.