South Dakota Beef Industry Council, Sanford Health ‘beefing up’ high school athletes this football season with Beef: It’s Whats for Dinner | TSLN.com

South Dakota Beef Industry Council, Sanford Health ‘beefing up’ high school athletes this football season with Beef: It’s Whats for Dinner

Brenna Ramsden
for Tri-State Livestock News

A new program by the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) focuses on high school athletes looking to 'beef up' for the football season.

The 'Build Your Base With Beef' program is in its pilot year in ten schools across South Dakota. In a partnership with Sanford Health Sports Science Institute, the SDBIC created the Build Your Base program to educate athletes and parents how to use beef as the premiere protein in a balanced diet.

South Dakota Beef Industry Council Director, Suzy Geppert believes beef has a place in everyone's diet.

"Protein is vital in the building and repair of muscle tissue," said Geppert, "beef can do that in addition to many other health benefits."

“Protein is vital in the building and repair of muscle tissue. Beef can do that in addition to many other health benefits. We want to make sure these kids and families understand the nutritional benefits beef provides and the role it can play in an active and healthful lifestyle.” Suzy Geppert, SDBIC director

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Producers, community members, coaches and athletic directors joined SDBIC and Sanford Health to develop the program. Build Your Base was created with active families and athletes in mind. The program includes pre and post-practice and game meals, educational materials and tips for adding beef into daily diets in a quick and easy way. While the program is geared towards athletes, it really focuses on parents who usually prepare the meals.

"If we can help them with the planning, timing, and importance of including high quality protein like beef in their meals and snacks, our hope is that they will become more intentional about the choices they make," said Geppert

Developers hope the program will expand to more schools and more sports programs in the future. The pilot program can be found in large and small schools on both sides of the river, giving the SDBIC a greater idea of how this program can grow. Geppert says athletic directors and coaches have already reached out to express gratitude for the Build Your Base with Beef program.

For the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, tracking the effectiveness of the Beef Check-Off dollar is important. Surveys from parents, athletes and coaches will provide them with qualitative and quantitative results when the program finishes this December. For the SDBIC, success is measured by getting the message to the consumer and building beef demand. Geppert says she would like to secure beef's place on the plate by showing consumers the value of a healthy lifestyle.

"We want to make sure these kids and families understand the nutritional benefits beef provides and the role it can play in an active and healthful lifestyle," said Geppert

In a program like Build Your Base with Beef, Geppert says it was also important to have the producers involved in development.

"It offers them a chance to engage with their checkoff in telling beef's story from pasture to plate," said Geppert, "They get an opportunity to listen to the needs of our consumer and brainstorm with others on ways our industry can meet those needs."

Eric Sumption, a rancher and Cattlemen's Beef Board member, says his involvement in the program was eye-opening.

"I can see their (consumers') side of it," said Sumption, "if producers can sit down and get everyone together, you can see the full circle."

Sumption says the theory on his operation is to produce the most consistent product he can. By talking with consumers and understanding the retail side of the industry, Sumption says it has given him a clearer vision as to what the consumers actually want. According to him, the biggest concern consumers had was 'time.' Developers heard this concern and knew they needed to create a program that was quick and easy for active families. Dinner recipes like Lazy Beef Lasagna, Rock and Roll Beef Wraps, and Sloppy Joe (5 Ways!) are just a few of the dinner recipes created by developers with families in mind. The theory is to help families spend less time on dinner and more time together.

Success, in Sumption's opinion, is measured by connecting with the athletes in this program. He is looking forward to seeing if athletes utilized meal plans, and if their minds were changed about eating beef. Instead of showing the parents how to use these meals, the kids are the target audience. Sumption hopes by showing young people the importance of beef, they will push their parents to share more meals and try new things.

"It's like we are skipping a generation," said Sumption, "maybe we will actually impact more people in the long run."

Geppert believes strongly in building beef demand and in producers sharing their story. The Build Your Base program is effective in both of those goals. On the website, buildyourbase.sdbeef.org, program participants can find community stories, meal plans and educational pieces. Athletes and parents have access to a toolkit on the site that guides them through the program and breakdown the importance of protein in their diet as they build muscle. Geppert hopes the program will encourage families to be intentional about meals and connect with where their food is coming from.

The Build Your Base program is not only backed by local producers and the SDBIC, but by health professionals as well. Dr. Thayne Munce with Sanford Sports Science Institute says they are excited to have a widespread impact on health and wellness performance with beef as a premiere protein. He says beef is not only important to South Dakota, but to the entire United States as well. For Geppert, teaming up with Sanford is a big deal.

"We believe in our protein," said Geppert, "we know, and we also have the science to back the program up."

South Dakota beef producers had a huge voice in this program according to Geppert. SDBIC works on behalf of South Dakota's beef farmers and ranchers to inform consumers and help them feel connected to the beef community. Much like other upcoming events, the Build Your Base program is all about sharing the beef story, and educating consumers.

You can find the South Dakota Beef Industry Council at their upcoming events: the PGA Tour in Sioux Falls Sept. 19-23 and the Annual Beef Bowl Classic in Brookings, SD when SDSU takes on Arkansas -Pine Bluff on Sept. 15.