Cattlemen "beefing up" school lunch across Nebraska

Cattlemen across Nebraska are beefing up school lunch.

Thayer Central in Hebron was one of the first to bring local beef to the cafeteria; Now four dozen schools have similar programs.

Groups like the Nebraska Beef Council and Nebraska Cattlemen support the effort, saying it connects cattle producers to schools.

And it connects kids to agriculture.

Mitch Rippe of the Beef Council said, “It’s a great story about community support and how grassroots efforts among school administrators, local cattlemen have come together, provide students with locally raised beef and to connect with agriculture, so they can learn about how that beef is produced and also experience that in the lunch room, cafeteria, in some great beef recipes.”

Thayer Central hosted a Beef in Schools summit Wednesday, that Rippe said attracted around 130 people from dozens of schools.

Rippe said the Nebraska Department of Education has guidelines, most notably that beef has to be processed at a federally inspected slaughterhouse.

Beef is Nebraska’s number one industry, and those in the business say it’s a way to support local schools.

Rippe said schools that have added the program find school lunch participation is higher, especially on days when the beef is served. He said other schools are considering adding similar programs.

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