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Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement leads to Kansas beef being served in cafeterias

Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement leads to Kansas beef being served in cafeterias

Booth Creek Wagyu beef will be featured in school nutrition program menus across the state, thanks to the Local Food for Schools (LFS) cooperative agreement.  

The LFS grant opportunity was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service and is administered through the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Child Nutrition and Wellness team. 

Funding was offered to each school district across the state to purchase local meat. The meat must have originated within 400 miles of the school or within the state of Kansas. 

To be eligible, meat products must be minimally processed or unprocessed, requiring cooking beyond heat-and-serve. This includes raw cuts of meat, such as ground, roasts and loins. Various meat proteins could be utilized, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey and bison. 

There were 283 districts in Kansas that accepted the LFS funds to use raw, from-scratch meat products in their kitchens. This is 71% of all National School Lunch Program sponsors in the state.  

The LFS funds aren’t just a win for schools. Booth Creek Wagyu, a ranch located in Manhattan, heard of the LFS opportunity and pursued contacting districts across the state. The company met districts’ requests to have ground meat made into patties to decrease labor strains. They are also working on packing in larger quantities, such as 10-pound ground beef chubs, that are better suited for school food service.  

Lance Batson, vice president of sales, marketing and operations, said the company is excited for the opportunity. 

“We are excited about this partnership and the opportunity to get premium meats into your programs,” Batson said. “We have already supplied or are getting ready to ship to over 12 Kansas school districts. Most have all sampled the products, and the feedback from the cooks, students and others has been very positive. BCW looks forward to providing Wagyu ground beef to students across Kansas and having the opportunity for Kansas schools to get locally raised premium beef into the child nutrition programs.” 

Wamego Unified School District 320 featured Wagyu ground beef in homemade lasagna, while Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 utilized patties for hamburgers.  

“We were excited to serve Booth Creek Wagyu Burgers today at all our secondary schools,” Manhattan-Ogden’s foodservice boasted on its Facebook page. “Booth Creek Wagyu is working with several area districts to provide their locally raised and locally processed beef at a special school nutrition program rate. It doesn't get more local to our central kitchen than Booth Creek!” 

The LFS funding opportunity is not expected to be renewed. However, the KSDE CNW team is hopeful that the partnership between school food service and local producers to provide high-quality, nutritious meat to students will last. 

Posted: Dec 14, 2023,
Categories: Feature Story,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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