Grassfed Kansas Beef Feeds Overseas Troops
Southeast Kansas beef operation grows right along with morale of overseas soldiers.
Lush grass with turnips mixed in sustains this Kansas beef operation's cattle.
courtesy Schenker Family Farms
Imagine the sense of satisfaction Lt. Col. Kevin Schenker, stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, felt when, while seated in a dentist chair awaiting treatment, the dentist walked in eating one of his beef sticks. Hearing Kevin’s wife, Cherie, tell the story, you can’t help but feel the pride in her voice.
The dentist came in talking about how good the beef stick she was eating tasted, and Kevin couldn’t help but smile. When asked why he was amused, he needed to only motion to his nametag and the label on the beef stick. That beef stick came from one of his own Kansas grassfed steers.
The Schenkers’ story is one of farm life, traditions passed down from one generation to the next, and an altruistic spirit they take into their niche-market business that is not often found or able to be applied in modern agriculture.
The basis for it all is a grassfed meat operation, located on a farm near McCune, Kansas (population 400 on a good day), that was started by Cherie’s great-grandfather. What separates the Schenker farm from others that are emerging – as the grassfed, back-to-the-land movement becomes a more popular trend across the nation – is that the Schenkers, through Adopt-a-Platoon and their own efforts and out-of-pocket expenses, have developed a method for shipping their products to soldiers stationed overseas.
“One of the coolest things for me is when I get – I call it fan mail – a letter from some private first class who’s probably 19 years old, thanking me for a touch of home,” Cherie says. “He’s over there so far away with a lot of people he’s never met before, he’s young, and it is just something to remind him of home.”
The appreciation that Cherie and her farm express for the service of overseas soldiers is more than lip-service – or even its meat products. Kevin joined the National Guard when he was 17 years old and will retire in 2011, having spent 31 years in the armed forces.
During his deployment, Cherie, their three children and numerous staff members have kept the operation flourishing. Schenker Family Farms (www.Schenker Farms.com) experienced triple-digit growth in 2009; a sign that a healthy market of consumers throughout America values the quality of the meat they eat and the location of the production process.
Cherie attributes another factor in their success: a customer service ethic that drives a large percentage of repeat business. While the Schenkers sell raw clover honey, some preserves and other products (Cherie holds up a femur from a cow, a chew-toy for dogs that is selling well right now), their primary business is in the meat. And of that, about 95 percent is shipped, with about 80 percent of that shipped within U.S. borders.
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