Gov. Kelly awards grants to Yoder Meats, other Kansas businesses

Alice Mannette
Gov. Laura Kelly speaks Wednesday with Yoder Meats owner Chad Bontrager, a recipient of a Securing Local Food Systems grant to help ag-related businesses, at his store.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has announced more than $9 million in grants for projects to strengthen the state’s food supply system.

Kelly, Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam and Commerce Secretary David Toland visited Yoder Meats in Yoder on Wednesday to make the announcement.

Yoder Meats is one of 183 Kansas agriculture and food-related businesses in more than 70 counties awarded grants as part of the Securing Local Food Systems grant program. To qualify for the grant, businesses must have fewer than 200 employees. Along with meat processing plants, farmers, ranchers and community food organizations received funds.

“The pandemic has served to remind the country how critical it is that we protect our food supply system,” Kelly said. “These are small businesses that don’t always have the income stream so they can grow. As they always have, Kansas agriculture and food businesses have stepped up to the challenge.”

The Securing Local Food Systems grant is one of several grants made possible in the second round of the federal CARES Act funding and approved by the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Task Force. It was created to increase capacity of Kansas’ local food systems and available to for-profit and not-for-profit businesses, including direct-to-consumer producers/growers/vendors, food processors, slaughter and processing facilities, food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, farmers markets and retail food outlets, such as grocery stores.

“These grants will allow local food and agriculture businesses to expand their capability to respond to the food supply,” Beam said. “Local businesses like Yoder Meats are critical to providing food to Kansans, and that need was made clear throughout this year.”

Yoder Meats provides custom meat processing, along with wholesale and retail meat products and locker rental, in south-central Kansas. The $100,000 grant, which is expected to cover half of the cost of the space, will allow the plant to increase its storage capacity.

“This new storage facility will help us keep up with demand,” said Chad Bontrager, the owner of Yoder Meats. “It sets us up to better serve those customers in the long run.”

These state grants will cover capacity-related improvements made since March 1 through Dec. 30. The grants range from $2,500 to $100,000.

Some of the other businesses awarded funds are:

• Bauman's Butcher Block, Ottawa

• Burkhart Meat Processing, Kinsley

• Coal Valley Processing, Columbus

• Cunningham Community Hands of Hope, Cunningham

• Farview Farms Meat Company, Topeka

• JET Produce and Meats, Leavenworth

• Krehbiels Specialty Meats, McPherson

• Manna House, Dodge City

• Mark's Meats, Halstead

• Prairy Market & Deli, Newton

• Rommey Farms, Cassoday

• Smoky River Meats, Salina

• South 50 Meats, Harper

• Strengthening and Equipping Neighborhoods Together, Topeka

• Walnut Valley Packing, El Dorado

Gov. Laura Kelly speaks Wednesday at Yoder Meats in Yoder about the more than 180 Securing Local Food Systems grants that were awarded to help ag-related businesses.