NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The Independent Beef Association of North Dakota movement is a push to get local beef in places, like our schools, and the movement is prospering, despite the recent beef shortage.

Thursday, I-BAND members, school cooks, and other active members of the community sent out a call to action.       

I-BAND hosted a continuing education workshop class for school cooks to get local beef into state schools.

Rancher and I-BAND director, August Heupel, tells KX News that putting beef into schools is not just important to ranchers and producers.

“It’s to support local. It’s to support your local communities. It’s to have your kids eating local nutritious beef and having the availability of beef. With supply chain issues, it’s been tough to get, so we just want them to be aware that local beef is right outside the back door, and they can access it,” said Rancher and I-BAND Director, August Heupel.

School Nutritionist Rhonda Amundson agrees and shares that there are three immediate wins that come with having local beef in schools.

“It’s a win for the students. Getting that local beef, and knowing where their food is coming from, it’s a win for the schools. Supporting their businesses in the community and a win for the community getting their students knowing where that food is coming from,” Amundson said.

Amundson says she has even heard amazing feedback after several people tried the local beef from these school cooks.

“We have heard that the school cooks believe that they’re getting a better yield out of the product and also better flavor, better smell for the students. As a federal government employee, I know that USDA sources their beef. It’s gotta be American and come from the local area. But it is American beef. It has to meet specifications. So nutritionally, it should not be any different. But from what I hear from the schools, yes, there is definitely a difference,” said Amundson.

Those at the workshop even received a book with numerous recipes on how best to cook the beef.

So, what’s next for these local beef activists?

August Heupel says the next step forward would be to reach state legislators.

“Get involved. Find out how you can go about getting local beef and go for it. I mean, it’s right there. They should get on board too for their constituents to support and promote good business, a good local economy, local-thriving small towns, and things along those lines. The more people we have involved locally, the more the economy will thrive,” Heupel said.

According to the USDA, cattle production is the most important agricultural industry in the United States, consistently accounting for the largest share of total cash receipts for agricultural commodities.

Having local beef in the schools, ranchers say could bring the cash earned straight back to the state, which will keep the economy flowing.

School cooks who attended the event were not only learning about the benefits of local beef, but they were also able to earn the learning hours needed to serve during the school years.

All cooks need 12 hours of learning hours each year to work in the state’s school systems.