THINK LOCAL: Kansas State Meat Lab offers curbside pickup, job opportunities during pandemic

The Kansas State Meat Lab offers curbside pickup during the pandemic to keep customers safe. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

In recent months, the Kansas State Meat Lab continued providing not only food, but job opportunities for students and the community.

As other businesses struggled to meet the standards of buyers, the meat lab boosted its sales during the last six months.

John Wolf, operations manager for the meat lab, said sales increased 30 percent since March.

“People now are wanting to buy their meat locally because all of our livestock is raised right here on campus,” Wolf said.

The meat lab encourages consumers to buy meat locally to support both local businesses and the university.

“[The meat is] processed here, it’s localized here and bought here,” Lukas Sebesta, junior in agricultural education, said. “It provides the local idea and supports K-State.”

Wolf said high demand provides more opportunities for students to work in the meat lab. Student workers gain real-world experience and learn about the business to prepare them for jobs after college.

“We’ve given the students the opportunity to learn the profession, and hopefully the seniors that we have will get jobs straight out of the lab because there’s a high demand for meat cutters right now,” Wolf said. “Whether it’s helping with class or overseeing a group of students that are working in the lab or helping with the production side of things.”

The opportunity to buy meat and dairy products stretches beyond campus to the public.

“We send out an email on Tuesday nights and take orders until around 10 a.m. on Thursday,” Wolf said. “We call people to collect the payment, then they can come by Friday and pick up their order. Students take the orders out to people’s cars.”

With new adjustments and protocols implemented on-campus and within the food industry, the meat lab offers curbside pickup and delivers meat, ice cream and dairy products to customers’ cars.

“It helps keep people safe rather than going into grocery stores,” Zane Platter, junior in animal sciences and industry, said. “Now, they can just call or email us, and we can put their orders together.”

The lab implemented protocols to keep the meat lab workers and their products safe.

“We wear masks at work, we take our temperature when we check in and check out and when we can’t safely social distance, we wear face shields,” Sebesta said. “We also clean the equipment more and make sure it’s sanitized.”

The meat lab operates out of 166 Weber Hall on Friday afternoons.