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Couple helps beef up school lunch program in McIntosh, S.D.

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 4:33 PM CST
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MCINTOSH, S.D. – There are lots of educational studies that show kids learn better on a full stomach, but school lunches often get a bad rap.

While schools strive to provide healthy meals to students, kids will tell you, sometimes those meals don’t taste very good.

But, in one small South Dakota town in the heart of cattle country school lunches have become good news.

It’s taco day at McIntosh school, but these tacos taste a little different because the taco meat is locally raised beef.

Out here, there are more cattle than people.

“We run about 300 pairs and raise bulls,” said Stefanie Maher of Maher JM Angus.

Morristown, S.D., producers Jeremy and Stefanie Maher wanted to get that local beef into the school. For them, it’s a way to improve school lunches and educate kids about their way of life.

“We want to promote agriculture,” explained Stefanie.

They donated beef, 500 pounds of hamburger, to the McIntosh school.

Students say this beef tastes better. And they like knowing where their food comes from.

“You know what the real meat tastes like and what it is and where it comes from,” said James Maher a freshman.

“You’re supporting the local farmers,” added sophomore Carlie Lafferty.

And they know this beef donation is a very big deal.

“What Jeremy did for the school was pretty nice. From donating that animal and didn’t want anything back, he just wanted to help so just shows how good the community can be,” said Christian Campbell, a senior.

A community where beef is king.

“We live in beef country,” said Tia Nehl, McIntosh FFA adviser.

Nehl’s FFA students were involved from the very beginning, from getting school board approval to arranging for the beef to be processed. They’re pretty proud of what they’ve accomplished.

“Look what we did. It’s awesome,” said sophomore Alonna Campbell.

Nehl hopes that sense of accomplishment might inspire more kids to consider careers in agriculture.. and a future here in cattle country.

“If we’re serving local beef at our school, that’s just another reason for maybe these kids to come back to this area and work in our industry,” said Nehl.

An industry that they’ve seen can make an impact far and near.

The Mahers donated the beef and Wall Meats processed the beef for free.

They hope word of the donation and the program in South Dakota will spread to other schools and other states.

If you’d like to learn more about how to donate a beef to your school, visit wallprocessing.com or call Ken at Wall Meat at 605-430-4764.

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