I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who had played a role in the success of the Hay Springs Beef to Hot Lunch program during the 2018-19 school year. The program began by meeting with the western region of the Nebraska Cattlemen in the fall of 2017 in which Mrs. Shavona Henry, member of the Hay Springs Board of Education, and Mr. Lechtenberg the Superintendent attended. Following that meeting, the possibility of establishing this program to support our School Lunch Program was discussed at the Board of Education meeting. With the approval of the board the process began to move forward. Mrs. Henry contacted several area beef producers and we held our first meeting in the school cafeteria. Area beef producers who attended planning meetings included Brian and Muffy Forney, Travis Binger, Alisha Smith, Tara Rasmussen, and Greg Heiting. It appeared, to be obvious that we would have beef producer support to provide high quality locally raised beef for our student lunches. Next we met with Mr. Lambert, the Superintendent at Bridgeport Public School, and had a discussion about the processor they use and the particulars of the program. We then invited Denny Hoagland, the owner and operator of KDK Meats at Bridgeport, to speak at our Board of Education meeting about the slaughter process, packaging and delivery from the locker to the school. All local beef donations to the school lunch program had to be processed in a Federally inspected processing plant.
As the buzz about the potential to have locally raised beef for school lunch meals spread and individuals were contacted about support for the program, we received donations in-kind for freezers from BNSF Railroad and Russ and Sue Lechtenberg, delivery from the ranch to the locker from Greg Heiting, and from the locker to the school freezer by Forney’s, Jen Young, and School personnel. Security First Bank and First State Bank made donations to assist in covering the processing costs. The major donations came from the local beef producers who have donated to this program and include: Sheridan Livestock Auction Co., Judd and Brandy Hoos, Hinn Ranch XT, Marcy Cattle Company, Zach Kraenow Cattle Company, S&V Registered Angus–Don and Mary Vannetta, and Greg and Megan Heiting. We have had a total of seven beefs donated over the past year. We have improved the quality of our school lunch program.
In August and again on the last day of school in May Security 1st Bank brought their grill up and grilled burgers for our students to kick off the beef to lunch program. The school lunch program has utilized this locally grown beef in roasts, hamburgers, taco meat, and a variety of other meat menus. The cooks have developed a burger Thursday where locally grown beef is served every Thursday during the school year. Since the majority of the school lunch program utilizes ground beef in one way or another, the most acceptable quality of beef animals have been cull middle aged cows that have had 60-90 days of feed. We have had some higher quality beef animals donated and they are very much appreciated, but they will still mostly be utilized as roast or ground beef. If you are a beef producer or are involved in an agribusiness that supports our area beef producers, or are supporters of our educational system and are interested in supporting this Beef to School Lunch program please contact the school at 308-638-4434.
On behalf of the Hay Springs students, faculty, staff, kitchen personnel and the Board of Education I want to express gratitude for the tremendous generosity and support of our educational system in getting this program started. As a school district, we are so blessed to have the overwhelming community support of our patrons. — Mr. Lechtenberg