Cal Poly Meats
Meeting Community Needs
As much of the Cal Poly campus and the surrounding community came to a sudden halt in the spring, the university’s J and G Lau Family Meat Processing Center rallied to become a central provider of provisions and student-grown products.
Manager Jim Douglass worked with students and staff to create a drive-up store model, quickly transforming it into a one-stop-shop for local customers to purchase not only high-quality, local meat products, but student-grown produce, eggs and even flower bouquets. “We began this endeavor a week after California’s March shelter-in-place mandate was issued,” Douglass said. “We’ve built a great base here with our community, providing meat products, but we knew that we could no longer do it in the small, confined space of our market.”
The small storefront, located on Stenner Creek Road at the northern end of campus, has long served a loyal customer base, offering fresh beef, pork, lamb, poultry and other specialty meats produced, packaged and marketed by students as part of their coursework. Cal Poly's meat processing center is one of the only Department of Agriculture-inspected plants on a college campus.
“The meat processing center is a great place to work with an amazing staff aiming to produce high-quality goods to our customers,” said Jaimie Thompson, animal science senior. “Once COVID-19 hit, a lot of customers came to us looking for our products, and we adjusted our store model to accommodate the safest possible delivery of goods."
Other college units impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic soon began to partner with the meat market, selling produce and products that would have otherwise been sold at local farmers markets and other campus stores. Douglass said that at the height of demand, as many as 107 cars a day came to the market to stock up, with more than 2,600 customers served since the drive-up model was launched.
“It has been amazing to be a part of the evolution of the market,” said Morgan Metheny (Animal Science, ’17), a full-time lecturer who also helps manage the market. She also manages the market’s website and social media accounts, letting customers know what will be available each week. “First we added strawberries, then produce from Cal Poly’s organic farm and later, fresh flowers,” she said. The market also increased its stock of other student-made products, such as eggs, cheese, ice cream, jams and barbecue sauce.
As long as the physical distancing mandate remains in effect, the meat market will continue to operate on a drive-up model. “We want to maintain a presence in the community and make a contribution,” Douglass said.
For more information, including hours and available products, visit calpolymeats.com or follow
@calpolymeats on Facebook and Instagram.
Visit Cultivate Summer 2020 to read more stories.