Photo by Savanna Simmons
Terry Mohr, with Wall Meat Processing, delivered 400 lbs. of beef to the Edgemont School District last week. Wall Meat donated the processing and superintendent Amy Ferley and her family donated the beef.
By Savanna Simmons
EDGEMONT – At the start of 2020, the students of Edgemont School District will be consuming locally grown and processed beef. The Ferley family and Donald Putnam Ranch Inc. has already donated and delivered a whole beef, and Wall Meat Processing has donated the processing in celebration of the school adopting the program.
While local donations can be accepted, the federal regulations still exist, ensuring beef slaughtered while under state inspection. While it would be preferred that the school forgoes the federal program to allow for freedoms in what can be served, keeping federal regulations and reimbursements in place keeps the lunch cost lower.
“It’s a benefit that we know where the meat is coming from, and we can up our supply,” said school board member Justin Printz. “We know the community has always been tight-knit and has always wanted to help the school, such as the Barkers with their track project. We knew the beef project wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
While the first consideration might be to donate a finished animal, federal program dictates that meat not have too great a fat content in order to be served to students.
“We don’t want finished cattle at all,” said Edgemont School District superintendent Amy Ferley. “We really want a grass-fed cull cow or broken-legged steer.”
Ferley’s cow, donated more specifically by LeeAnn Ferley, Casey and Amy Ferley, and Chad and Jessica Ferley, yielded 400 lbs. which is expected to last the school about six weeks if the lunch staff continues to prepare about half of each week’s lunch meals with beef.
“The cost to beef producers since it’s something that’s going down the road is not that big of a deal,” LeeAnn said. “We thought since Amy implemented the program, we should be the first to donate beef. It’s a nice way to provide our students with good beef. Protein is one of the best things for growing bodies and brains.”
They will begin serving it once the commodity beef that was purchased with entitlement dollars is used up. Beef donations will free up those entitlement dollars, leaving the school more opportunities to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables for meals and the salad bar in the future. If local donations dwindle, the school will purchase local beef.
“The school also covers processing where needed,” Amy said.
Printz’s employer, Four Three Ranch in Redbird, Wyoming, is supplying the next beef when it is needed and several other local ranches have committed a beef as well. Pork can be supplied as well, though it will need to be cooked under particular regulations prior to arriving at the school.
Amy has created a learning opportunity for students alongside the development of the beef program. Student Cooper Reutter is formulating curriculum for those who wish to donate beef to the school, and Amy plans to invite Ken Charfauros, co-owner of Wall Meat Processing, and a rancher or two to speak to the students about raising beef.
“There are so many ag kids in our school raising the beef,” Amy said. “This is their product.”
With the greenhouse slated to go up this spring, students will also have the opportunity to put fresh produce on the lunch tables alongside local beef.
“Hopefully the kids will start to produce fresh vegetables in the greenhouse too,” LeeAnn said. “I think they’re learning a skill as well as helping their luncheon program.”