BOZEMAN – A new refrigerated van donated by Montana Farmers Union is helping Missoula students transport meat to feed other students around the state.
MFU is honored to donate the Dodge van to School House Meats, a state-inspected meat processing plant run through the Missoula County Public Schools’ agriculture education program.
“We need to get more local food back in our school systems. During the COVID pandemic we saw a broken food supply chain, and we cannot risk healthy food for our kids on corporate monopolies’ manipulation,” MFU President Walter Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer added the idea to donate the van came after learning that the program was using coolers to deliver meat around the state.
“It was just an amazing gift to get, and so useful too,” said Andres, who is an agriculture education teacher at MCPS and director of the meat processing plant.
One of the things School House Meats does is butcher donated beef and then deliver it to schools to use in their meal programs.
In Bozeman, at the Montana State FFA Convention, Meat was served to students via the van where the meat is being cooked for attendees.
Because the van can control the temperature of the meat as long as it is running or plugged in, it opens up opportunities to expand the program to include more and farther away schools by ensuring the meat remains cool enough during transport to maintain its state inspected status, Andres said.
The van holds about 2,000 pounds of meat – or about five steers – meaning School House meat can use the van as significant freezer space on site too.
Already, Andres has plans to use the van in conjunction with the program’s cooking equipment to expand catering opportunities.
“I’m so grateful that there are people out there who are willing to support us and to support agriculture,” Andres said.
MCPS does a great job providing hands-on ag education, including through School House Meats, Schweitzer said.
“It’s teaching kids how to feed themselves,” he said, adding that’s something MFU wholeheartedly supports.
To learn more about Montana Farmers Union visit www.montanafarmersunion.com.