Atoka Public Schools students Photo by Atoka Public Schools

Atoka Elementary School students enjoying hamburgers made from Choctaw beef.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma announces farm-to-school partnership with Atoka Public Schools

By Christian Toews
January 3, 2023

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) and Atoka Public School (APS) have announced a multi-year farm-to-school partnership.

CNO will produce and distribute fresh beef, raised and harvested in Southeastern Oklahoma, to APS campuses.

APS is a rural Southeastern Oklahoma district with just over 800 students attending its two campuses.

It will be the first school in the CNO reservation to provide only Choctaw beef on their school lunch menu. CNO will be distributing the meat to APS every week.

Jody Standifer, Executive Officer of Agriculture for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said this ground beef is from the same cattle that will also serve the restaurant in Atoka, owned by country music superstar Reba McEntire. Reba’s Place is a combination restaurant, bar, live music venue and retail store.

“We are providing Choctaw beef to Reba’s restaurant, so you will get top-shelf steaks and ribeye and those things, then we are utilizing the remaining high-quality beef to serve the schools at Atoka. So, these kids are getting the same high-quality beef that you would get at Reba’s or any premium steakhouse across the country,” said Standifer.

CNO owns seven cattle ranches across its Reservation. These ranches raise and maintain around 27,000 Angus cows, according to Standifer.

In addition to providing beef for Reba’s and APS, CNO will soon serve Choctaw branded beef in the Pecola and Grant resorts.

Standifer said CNO hopes to expand its beef production and provide even more beef for consumers throughout the Choctaw Nation.

“At CNO, we’re committed to producing safe and nutritious beef with a commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility; we hope to partner with other school districts within the CNO reservation as we grow this program,” he said.

The program kicked off on November 16, 2022, and Atoka Public Schools will receive around 400 to 600 pounds of beef each week for its school lunch program.

“This partnership allows our school district the opportunity to offer beef to our students that is right from the fields of Southeast Oklahoma to our cafeteria tables,” states Stephanie Bray, Child Nutrition Director for Atoka Public Schools. “It’s important for our students to know where their food is coming from and care about what they are eating. Thanks to the initial idea from the CNO, school lunches at APS are tasting better than ever.”