Beef. It’s what’s for lunch
Maconaquah Cattle Company makes its way to school lunches
The success of Maconaquah Middle School’s agri-STEM program, Maconaquah Cattle Company, came full circle on Tuesday when the first beef produced by the program was served in school lunches. The verdict? Delicious and satisfying.
Ground beef from the project was served in the form of cheeseburgers and walking tacos, which are similar to burrito bowls, on Tuesday, according to Maconaquah Food Service Coordinator Kim Lewis.
“I like it because I know I’m serving good, quality meat,” she said. “And I think it’s a great learning process for the students — very unique.”
Eighth graders Luke Stage and Alexandra Merritt are part of the Farm to School group that runs Maconaquah Cattle Company, and they said the burgers tasted “fresh.”
Merritt said this is a big milestone, but it’s not the last step. They hope to extend beef offerings to all of Maconaquah’s school buildings and other schools in the future.
Stage agreed, saying. “It’s showing that it’s worth it, but it’s just a fraction of what’s to come.”
Other milestones within the last three years have included receiving donations and grants, the donation of several calves from community farmers, the construction of the barn on campus, and moving the cattle from donated property to the school campus last fall.
“Being in Farm to School has been such a great experience for me,” Merritt said. “My leadership skills have improved, and … it has me going out and talking about the project. We’re learning life skills here.”
Maconaquah Cattle Company faculty advisor John Sinnamon said serving beef in the cafeteria was a success in which the entire school could participate.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “They’re eating the burgers and giving me thumbs up, talking about how good it is. They can’t believe how different it tastes to have fresh beef.”
Sinnamon said it’s “very symbolic” of “a lot of time and hard days” the students have put into the program. Sinnamon noted that this isn’t just a semester-long project, but that Tuesday’s success was “several years” in the making.
MMS Principal Craig Jernagan was helping serve lunch in the cafeteria Tuesday because the lunch lines were the longest he’s seen in a long time. Announcements were made before each lunch period, reminding students that Maconaquah Cattle Company provided the meat.
“It’s a good feeling,” Jernagan said. “It shows the students’ hard work, dedication, and fortitude to get the project done.”
He said the school received about 500 pounds of beef from its first processed animal, and what makes the project unique is that the “students are leading the charge.”
“We didn’t buy cattle and just throw them on campus,” he said. “Students built it from the ground up with funds and donations.”
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By Eric Stoff, firstname.lastname@example.org