Ram Country Meats: Providing protein in a pandemic

Ram Country Meats collage

Ram County Meats has a lot in store for Colorado State University, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the communities surrounding it. It’s a student-run and operated program that provides high-quality meats at competitive prices, where customers can purchase safe, quality products and know that their money is going straight back into the facility’s educational mission.

It’s also a facility that has been incredibly busy throughout the university’s shift to online teaching and learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and each individual still on site investing long hours and lots of hard work to supply products to a growing customer base. Ram Country Meats changed its sale area and hours to accommodate the increase in demand; sales for pickup are now available on the south side of the building at 350 W. Pitkin St., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The facility takes extra safety precautions to keep both employees and their customers safe: social distancing, frequent sanitizing of all surfaces and credit cards, and wearing facial masks and gloves. During processing, staff are also following all Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) protocols to ensure that the meat is of the highest food safety standards.

Ram Country Meats currently has some inventory of pork and beef cuts available for sale, as well as some processed meats (including sausage).

“We are very happy to continue to serve our customers and to be able to provide much-needed protein to the public,” said Brenna Klauer, CSU meat judging coordinator and catering kitchen manager for Ram Country Meats. “Though times are currently challenging, we are excited to continue to educate and serve the Colorado State University community.”

Research and education

Providing protein to the community isn’t the only good thing Ram Country Meats does. It offers many opportunities for research, educational experiences, and student employment. Two of their employees are currently students and are working from home during this change in pace.

Savanah Maki, who will be a senior in animal sciences in the fall, serves as the store lead. She has been fulfilling her duties remotely by emailing customers when their orders are ready for pickup, answering any questions they may have, updating inventory, and returning phone messages.

“I have really learned a lot from my time at Ram Country Meats,” she said. “My knowledge of food safety, animal welfare, and meats have significantly improved. The area where I have learned the most is cuts of meat. When I started working here, I barely knew anything about different cuts of meat, but I’ve learned so much from Dr. Robert Delmore (professor of animal sciences) and Joe Bullard (meat lab manager) in such a short amount of time.”

Kyle Harrington is a master’s student in biomedical engineering currently keeping on call in case Delmore or Bullard need him to come into work, since he lives about two hours outside of Fort Collins. His usual role is a student manager position in the Global Food Innovation Center (GFIC), helping Bullard keep the lab running throughout the week.

“Throughout my time here, I have learned almost everything there is to know about the basics for keeping the store supplied and other customers satisfied,” Harrington said. He began working at the meat lab when he was a college senior, and said he honestly did not know the wealth of knowledge that he would learn at Ram Country Meats.

He had an undergraduate degree was in biochemistry but little knowledge of meat and food science coming into his position. He has seen several collaborations between the CSU biochemistry and molecular biology departments and others that take advantage of the unique resources that the GFIC offers, and he is excited to see innovation blossom from working together.

“I think the most beneficial thing about working for Ram Country Meats and the GFIC is how much there is to learn if you want to,” Harrington said. “I have learned how to process cattle, hogs, and lambs into retail-ready cuts of meat while staying within the guidelines of the USDA inspection. Some of the many other things I have enjoyed learning are sausage making, bacon curing, and jerky, and then smoking all of these products.”

Interested in trying Ram Country Meats products? Visit ramcountrymeats.colostate.edu to place an order.