La Crosse County Schools Begin Serving Fresh, Local Meat

Regional Program Enables Schools To Purchase Meat From Farmers


A few La Crosse County school districts will now be serving fresh, local meat in its school lunches.

Four times per month this school year, students in the West Salem and Bangor school districts will be able to eat lunches made with ground beef produced in nearby Mindoro.

“We’re going to use it in our tacos, and we make a spaghetti sauce that has meat in in it. We do a beef stroganoff and a couple of hot dishes, like a cheeseburger macaroni bake and a tater tot hot dish,” said Kerri Feyen, the director of nutrition services for the districts.

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She said the schools generally serve precooked meat purchased through the U.S. Dairy Administration. She said that having another protein option will complement the local fruits and vegetables the district has been serving for years.

“The kiddos in this district specifically, we’re talking about a really rural area,” said Feyen. “There is a connection between the farm and the meals we eat. The kids, when we get this premade product, it doesn’t look that same as when mom makes it in the pan at home.”

The deal is part of the Coulee Region Farm2School program, which encourages schools to purchase from more local farmers. La Crosse County Farm2School coordinator Maggie Smith said that districts serving fresh, local meat is a new concept. There are cost limitations and kitchen staff have to be trained on handling raw meat.

“I’m hopeful with these districts testing the waters that it will catch on and establish more relationships with local meat producers and will really keep it going and just keep seeing it more and more,” said Smith.

Smith said she’d like to see the day when districts always buy local first.