RAPID CITY, S.D. – Despite strict requirements for the nation’s school lunch program, area ranchers have found ways to get locally-raised beef into South Dakota schools.
The latest school district to join that effort is the Belle Fourche School District where 6,000 pounds of locally sourced beef was recently delivered from Wall Meats Processing, Wall, S.D.
Kevin Larson, Wall Meats business development manager delivered what he says is one of the largest deliveries he has made in the Beef to School program that started in earnest in 2019 in South Dakota through initial efforts by Wall Meats Processing owner Ken Charfauros and area ranchers. Since that time, several school districts have joined the Beef to School program.
Staff, sponsors, and students helped unload the truck and pack the school freezer with 120 boxes of ground beef – enough to last the rest of the year.
Thirty animals were donated from several ranches, according to Belle Fourche school board president, Scott Reder.
“Right now, this is 100 percent funded by local ranchers, area businesspeople, and the general public who want to help out with the Beef to School program,” Reder said.
Students like Taya Kirstine said they are excited about this opportunity. She and others spoke with local media KOTA.
“It’s really comforting to know where the beef comes from since it is natural and home grown, but also, it’s going to keep our students healthier, in a way. And it also just tastes better too,” Kirstine said.
A representative from Mackaben Ranch, Shawnie Mackaben said it’s more than just getting beef to eat. The less meat the school staff has to buy, the more they can focus on produce costs.
“What we’re doing is promoting local agriculture, great nutrition, and really a whole farm-to-plate educational circle for the kids. And what it is that they’re consuming and what it is that our community is based on,” Mackaben said.
Larson explained that during and following the COVID-19 pandemic when there were meat shortages, farmers and ranchers have stepped up to help in the protein industry.
“Our real heroes are the ranchers and farmers who are making this happen for all of these schools. It’s humbling for us to work with these individuals,” Larson said.