Local beef: It’s what’s for lunch

Farm to school program off and running

On a blustery, bitter October afternoon, members of the Crazy Peak Cattle Women shuffled from the 28-degree weather outside, back into a 24-degree freezer inside the Sweet Grass County High School kitchen.

A team of five, including help from the SGHS kitchen staff, formed a sort of assembly line from the back of the truck into the freezer, carrying boxes labelled ‘Pioneer Meats, High School, Stew Beef, Craig Anderson, 0917.’ In those boxes was donated beef from Big Timber ranchers to help provide local beef to students at SGHS.

The process is part of a farm to school program, which SGHS received its first shipment back in May at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Since then, four and a half beef have been donated to the school, with more promised waiting in the wings. 

Cindy Bainter, the head cook at SGHS, processes the orders and communication with the Crazy Peak Cattle Women. She said the school and Crazy Peak Cattle Women saw a need for a program that supported local ranchers, and provided education for the students. 

“We tried to do a farm to school program a few years back, but we couldn’t get everything going in the right direction,” Bainter said. “I’ve had some kids say the meatloaf has been really good. We’re trying new things, changing up the menus. It’s been going really well.”

Bainter said the reception from the students has been glowing; that the sloppy joes and the cheeseburgers have been of much higher quality. And yes, even the meatloaf is getting rave reviews. 

But there’s more to this program than just getting a good, local lunch out of the deal. 

For more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands now, or subscribe online at bigtimberpioneer.net.

PHOTO CAPTION: A sign installed outside Sweet Grass County High School touts the school’s promise to serving local beef at the school. With the help of the Crazy Peak Cattle Women and local ranchers donating meat, students at SGHS have been able to eat locally grown beef since May of this year. (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer)




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