Wall School success in use of beef in school lunches

WALL, S.D. (KEVN) - In June of 2019, Representative Dusty Johnson introduced the Farm and Ranch to School Act, which would fund school lunch programs that use local livestock in meals.

Students at Wall School get their school lunches. Today, the menu was nachos.

On Wednesday, Johnson was at Wall School to learn how their program could be implemented at a national level.

"To me, we know that kids do a better job eating their school lunches when they have a connection to the food," said Johnson. "And, we also understand how important good nutrition is for student learning, so if we want to make sure that we have a strong cattle industry in South Dakota, if we want to make sure that we have strong kids that are ready to learn, this is a win-win project."

Some of the students' top-rated school meals are beef-based, like spaghetti and nachos. The students take pride in knowing that their meals are local and staff sees perks in diet education.

"The benefits are just that any time you can serve anything local," said Lynn Dunker, head cook at Wall School. "It's good to educate and promote kids about healthy eating and healthy living and where their food is coming from."

Johnson wants to take successful programs like this and implement them at a national level and engage local farmers and ranchers in the production of school meals.

"The thing that I like about this bill is that we're not trying to re-invent the wheel," Johnson said. "Number one, these locally sourced fruits and vegetables programs, this has worked across the country. And, so, you're able to go talk to school nutritionist, talk to administrators and they already get it because they've seen it work. This is just an expansion of a program that's already worked."

According to Johnson's website, "under the current Farm to School Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not specifically allocate funds for local farm to school meat product sales. This legislation would also enhance educational opportunities in the classroom related to livestock production and meat processing."