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Nebraska Beef in Schools

Pure Nebraska
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:16 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:17 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Waverly Middle School student wants to put local beef on the school lunch menu, and his project is drawing plenty of praise.

Seventh grader Kolter Wellman would like to see Nebraska beef on the school lunch menu throughout District 145. He lives on a small acreage himself, and his family has a small herd of nine cows. “We are trying to get at least one of our animals donated, and trying to get some other people’s animals donated,” Wellman said. How did this all start? “It kind of started when my mom got an e-mail from the Nebraska Cattlemen, and she showed it to me,” Wellman said “The e-mail showed how other schools are getting beef in schools.”

A number of schools are promoting this “farm to table” concept. In Hampton, students are not only raising their own herd of cattle at school, they have a beef booster program that helps make sure beef is on the school lunch menu. A farm to fork program at Tri-County Schools is geared toward putting locally produced meat in the cafeteria as well. Kolter Wellman’s efforts to get beef on the menu at Waverly Middle School has turned into a very important learning experience. In fact, he went before the school board to share his idea.

“He came to one of our committee meetings, and presented to us, and I honestly didn’t know he was in 7th grade when he started talking,” School Board Member Chad Kendall said. School board members are impressed with his plan. “He had, step by step, how he wanted to do everything,” Kendall said. “It’s pretty amazing. It immediately caught our committee right away. We needed to help out with this.”

Now, school food service officials are trying to figure out how to make it all work. The food service director says the project is exciting, and kids are learning from it. “I think students are learning that they don’t have to go to the grocery store to get all of their products,” Food Service Director Philip Steffen said. “They can buy directly from a farmers market, or from a farm that does have produce, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and dairy. They can get meat products locally too, whether it’s poultry, pork or beef.”

The project is very close to becoming a reality, and Kolter is now in the publicity phase. He’s focused on getting the word out, and is hoping to get beef and monetary donations to make it possible. “We’d like to try and get it started in the fall of 2022,” Wellman said. With Kolter at the helm, and the school behind him, the likelihood of this project succeeding is pretty good. If you’d like to help or donate, call (402) 416-2895.

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