ALBANY — School lunch and creativity were synonymous in the fifth annual Top Cut Beef Contest for elementary, middle, and high school students. Sixty-seven classrooms competed to develop a beef recipe of their choice that could be served in their school cafeteria, while also working with their school’s food service personnel to identify the process of procuring, preparing, and providing a balanced school lunch. New York Agriculture in the Classroom and the New York Beef Council are pleased to announce the winners of the Top Cut Beef Contest.
Students and teachers in grades three through twelve were exposed to beef production and nutrition by developing a recipe and marketing strategy for a food product of their choice and design. In this hands-on experience, students were exposed to the versatility of beef and safe food handling practices while also learning about the multitude of agricultural careers and skills it takes to develop a recipe.
Students created beef-centric recipes that their fellow students might enjoy from the school cafeteria. They were challenged to work with their school’s food service teams to learn about how schools procure their food, the budget limitations that exist, and the nutritional requirements that should be followed. Students filmed their own commercials, drew logos, and wrote morning announcements to market their products.
To add context and provide students with the necessary information for the contest, classrooms were invited to attend four live Virtual Field Trips where they learned about the processes from farm to cafeteria tray. The Virtual Field Trips included an “In the Field” experience at Lucky 13 Beef Farm, “In the Kitchen” at South Lewis Central School, a guide to making beef-based sandwiches and charcuterie boards with the New York Beef Council, and a trip to Smith Packing Company to see how hot dogs are made for school cafeterias. Students also dived into food safety and honed their cooking skills with prerecorded videos made by the New York Beef Council.
The entries from across the state were judged by a panel of beef producers and industry experts. Each entry was evaluated on the product, market analysis, marketing plan, and the beef nutrition analysis. The first-place classroom in each division will receive $250, second place earns $100, third place earns $50, and all receive a banner to display their achievement. The first-place schools will also receive a barbeque grill for their classroom from the New York Beef Council.
For more information about the Top Cut Beef Contest, visit the New York Agriculture in the Classroom website at www.agclassroom.org/ny. New York Agriculture in the Classroom is a partnership of Cornell University, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and New York Farm Bureau. New York Agriculture in the Classroom fosters an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of our food and fiber system.
–New York Agriculture in the Classroom