Since January 2017, locally sourced grass-fed beef has been incorporated into the Gull Lake High School lunch program.
“We are piloting to see if there is interest in eating local beef,” said GLCS Health and Wellness Committee Co-Chair Amy Kletzien Riker. “We are hoping that students and teachers buy the burgers so that we can continue with this offering,”
The high school now offers specialty burgers with beef raised at the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Pasture Dairy Center, as part of a Farm-to-School partnership between Gull Lake Community Schools and KBS. This “burger-of-the-week” meal will include fruits, vegetables and milk for $3.30.[pullquote]
“Half of a cow from the MSU Kellogg Biological Station in the form of quarter pound burgers was delivered to the High School (only). These special burgers are being offered at least once a week (if not more),” said GLCS Health and Wellness Committee Co-Chair Amy Kletzien Riker.
“What an honor and very exciting,” Riker said. “We hope to create awareness as to where one’s food is coming from.”
Using KBS grass-fed beef has increased the cost the schools food budget. Nevertheless, the partnership sees the leaner meat from KBS as a healthier alternative, while also having the benefit of increasing the awareness of local foods.
“They are a bit more expensive to purchase but the meat is leaner, local, and in my opinion, tastier,” Riker said.
At the moment the local beef is only in the form of patties. However, if the patties are successful and students and teachers find the beef better, purchasing the beef for other meals such as tacos, spaghetti, and salisbury steak will be considered.
The GLCS Health and Wellness Committee and Chartwells Food Service have been central in this partnership. In addition, the Pease Packing Corporation in Scotts, a USDA-inspected meat processing facility has played a vital role in packaging the beef that is then sent to GLCS.
“One of our many goals is to have more farm raised local meats (not just KBS) and produce offered in the cafeterias,” Riker said. “The garden at the Ryan Intermediate (we are re-establishing this spring) will hopefully be a successful pilot in incorporating a garden into the curriculum and lunchroom. Stay tuned.”