Six head of beef were donated to local schools recently by a group of Malheur County Cattlemen. (The Enterprise/File).

VALE – A group of Malheur County cattlemen stepped up in a big way recently to provide beef for six local school lunch programs.

“The schools like it. It is very nutritious, and it is the real McCoy. The kids like it and the cooks like it,” said Chris Christensen, former president of the Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association and now an officer in the state organization.

Christensen and his wife Bonnie spearheaded the effort as part of the Ranchers Feeding Kids program. Six head of beef were donated to Annex, Adrian, Harper, Nyssa, Vale and Ontario school districts. Each district received one beef. Local ranchers Steve Russell, Wilkes Ranch Ironside, Leroy McBride, Angie and Charlie Smith and Devos Dairy donated the beef.

Vale senior Joseph Bentz also worked for several months to set up the donations. Farmers Ending Hunger, a state non-profit organized to fight hunger, paid for the cut and wrapping of the beef. The beef was processed at Northwest Premium Meats in Nampa.

Christensen said Producers Livestock in Vale allowed ranchers to store their cattle at the facility before they were taken to Nampa. Christensen said the donation program can “take some juggling.”

“Getting a processing date can be tricky,” said Christensen.

Christensen said the effort is good for the schools and area cattlemen.

“It is a positive image for the cattlemen to be donating their product to the school system. Anytime you can put out a positive image anymore for our organization it is a good thing,” said Christensen.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: pat@malheurenterprise.com or 541-473-3377.