With more than 6 million beef cattle raised in Nebraska, and agriculture’s hold as the state’s top industry, why are Nebraska’s students not served local beef on their lunch trays?
Thayer County beef producer and chairman for the Titan Beef Boosters, Rob Marsh, got to the bottom of the problem.
Marsh garnered support from local beef producers and community. To date, 32 beef have been committed over the next 3 years (valued at $45,000), as well as $34,000 in support funds for processing and packaging the animals.
A Community Foundation will manage funds and provide tax incentives for donations. A local grocer is providing freezer space. Organizations like the Nebraska Beef Council are providing promotional and educational opportunities for the students. And USDA processing facilities for slaughter and packaging were located.
Finally, critical players at the school level came enthusiastically on board. The Food service director agreed to increase beef by 50% on the menu. Why not when your budget will benefit, students waste less food because it tastes better, and your community applauds the effort.
With 312,602 Nebraska students, the potential is great when serving and promoting local beef. There is value in students knowing where their food comes from. And by keeping more dollars local, with our Nebraska beef producers and processors, economic benefits would be exponential.
Thayer Central Community Schools tied the pieces together, joining support from school, community, and farmers/ranchers. We believe this program is a model others across the country will be inspired to replicate.