By Angela Miller
Riiingg! That’s the lunch bell! At AERO, we want to see healthy, locally-sourced food on every school lunch tray across Montana. That’s why in 2023 we partnered with the Eastern Montana Food & Ag Development Center (FADC) to support the Beef to School Project, which encourages the use of local beef in every Montana school cafeteria.
To facilitate communication between producers and schools, the Eastern Montana FADC established a liaison role in partnership with Abundant Montana and AERO. Angela Miller was appointed to the position of Northeast Local Food Coordinator, given her background in Animal Science and residence on a ranch in Northeast Montana.
Phase 1 of the Beef to School Project involved offering funding to schools to purchase local beef and to build relationships between beef producers and schools. Thanks to funding from the Save the Children Fund, which was received by the Great Northern Development Corporation, schools in the Eastern Montana region were able to receive up to $440 to purchase local beef from participating regional producers. Ten local producers who sell their beef through USDA or State-Inspected retail were involved in the project.
The Local Food Coordinator worked with 20 schools in the region, keeping track of the total dollars, pounds, and students fed with each school’s allotment. All in all, nearly 1,400 lbs of locally produced beef was purchased by schools, providing meals for over 4,000 students.
For more information on how to bring Montana beef to schools or classrooms near you, please get in touch with your Abundant Montana Local Food Coordinator. You can also visit our Find Food and Farms map on abundantmontana.com.