The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Buffalo Authority Corporation recently received a Farm to School Planning Grant through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). According to project manager Joanna Studt, the purpose of the program is to “figure out a healthy competitive way to get local meat into the schools.” The program seeks to connect local beef and buffalo producers with school food source managers.
The ultimate outcome of a Farm to School program will be to provide locally sourced beef and buffalo to the School Lunch Programs of the five schools located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The schools on the Reservation include Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School, Dupree School, Takini School, Tiospaye Topa School, and Timber Lake School. The project will give local producers the opportunity to make their beef and buffalo available to the 2,200 children who are attending school on the Reservation. This program will have a huge impact on schools and local producers. It also will increase the sustainability and viability of our local food systems and serve as a model for future Farm to School efforts.
Originally, the idea was for the CRST Buffalo Corporation to focus on connecting buffalo producers to the schools. In discussions with Jayme Murray, who runs the herd, Studt and Murray realized, “Gosh, we’re right in the middle of this country. Why not include these two? So that’s what we’re working on. The idea is that you to have the producer and still have to meet the requirements at the school has to bring it into their school lunches, but to try to promote that idea of buying local and serving, local, and benefiting our own food systems or local food systems.”
Studt is in the process of forming her core team of stakeholders with the goal of having their first meeting at the end of January. She hopes that school staff, health professionals and farm producers will all come together to build the program. She is inviting anyone interested in the project to join the planning team. Members may include, but not be limited: school administrators, school board members, CRST Tribal Council members, Corporation Board members, school food service directors, teachers (i.e. science, agricultural, home economics, STEM, guidance counselors, Lakota teachers), students, parents, healthcare workers, producers/ranchers, organizations (i.e. PTA, FFA, 4-H), local media, and local chefs.
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