3 Sisters Go To School

By Lucy Norris, Project Manager, Puget Sound Food Network

Today was Taste Washington Day and participating schools throughout the state celebrated Washington’s seasonal bounty in style, including:

  • Serving a locally-sourced meal
  • Providing education and activities to recognize the region’s agricultural bounty
  • Inviting farmers to lunch
  • Arranging school visits to area farms
  • Connecting Future Farmers of America high school students with elementary students

This year was especially exciting because Seattle Public Schools (SPS) featured grass-fed beef franks from 3 Sisters Cattle Company (3 Sisters) of Whidbey Island on today’s lunch menu:

Seattle Public Schools Taste Washington Day Menu, September 28, 2011

According to Wendy Weyer, R.D., SPS Nutrition Services, “We had the hot dogs in our 70 elementary schools equaling 8,000 servings.  We actually ran out so not all sites had the dogs.”

The full cost for one school lunch is $2.75 for Seattle elementary schools, and students who qualify for free/reduced lunches are not charged.  Considering these locally produced beef franks retail at PCC Natural Markets for $5.99 per 12 oz. pack, the fact that SPS and 3 Sisters were able to reach an agreement on pricing alone is remarkable and inspiring.

3 Sisters Cattle Co. Uncured, 100% Grass-fed Beef Franks are sold at PCC Natural Markets

The connection between 3 Sisters and SPS was sparked on the morning of July 20th at Puget Sound Food Network’s (PSFN) 2011 Seattle Wholesale Market.  As Eric Boutin (former Food Services Director) put it, “We had no buying expectations.  We just wanted to look around at how the market was set up, what products were available, and to gain an understanding of how farm-direct purchasing could work.” Brought together by PSFN, local farmers made connections with local businesses and sold bulk quantities of fruits, meats, vegetables, breads direct-wholesale.  The 2011 season, which ended on August 31, was held in the parking lot of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Central District/Capital Hill.  Commercial and institutional buyers, including SPS Nutrition Services, received “weekly fresh sheets” to see what products were offered at wholesale prices and volumes. Buyers then considered if (and how) these products might fit within their meal programs.

It was SPS Central Kitchen Operations Manager, Randall Guzzardo and Mr. Boutin who met face-to-face with farmer Shelly Muzzall and discussed 3 Sisters’ grass-fed hotdogs with packs in hand.  This first meeting sparked negotiations that led to SPS featuring 3 Sisters’ hotdogs on today’s school lunch menu.  After Mr. Boutin’s departure from SPS, it was Wendy Weyer who stepped in and continued talks with 3 Sisters, and placed the first order. The Muzzall’s are excited about this first sale to Seattle Public Schools and hopes to have more opportunities to sell their all natural, grass-fed beef franks in school districts across the Puget Sound region.

One lunch featuring 3 Sisters Cattle Co beef franks and Carpinito Brothers salad greens

PSFN visited two elementary schools in the Wallingford/Fremont neighborhoods including BF Day School and John Stanford International School.  3 Sisters grass-fed beef franks were steamed and served on whole wheat buns made by Seattle’s own Franz Bakery. The hotdogs were a hit!  At John Stanford the hot dogs were sold out during the final lunch stampede, a teacher gave 3 Sisters the “thumbs-up” and another student came back and asked for a second hot dog!

The lunch line at John Stanford International School

In the spirit of Taste Washington Day, the menu showcased some of Washington’s finest produce, dairy, meat including PSFN member Carpinito Brothers of Kent who supplied the salad greens and Shepherd’s Grain Farm who supplied the flour for a popular dessert: chocolate brownies.

Learn more about 3 Sisters Cattle Co.

3 Sisters Cattle Co. has Natural, Uncured Beef Franks and Pepperoni made with Whidbey Island’s own local grass-fed beef!  Their premium grass-fed cuts represent your fresh-air, rural community. They are a healthy, homegrown alternative to national brands. Contact Shelly at (360) 675-2136 / shelly@3sistersbeef.com.  Plymouth Poultry is their distributor.

To learn more about PSFN membership benefits including weekly fresh sheets, seasonal wholesale markets, and other strategic marketing assistance please contact info@agbizcenter.org or visit PSFN’s website.

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