In the News: SVRCS Community Engagement Program hosts second cooking class

November 23, 2022

Articles and Photos by Amber Morris for The Express. Read the article here.

LOGANTON — As the days shorten, and frigid temperatures are here for the foreseeable future, it’s the perfect season to cook hearty “stick-to-your-ribs” meals. However, for many people, between work schedules and afterschool activities, there just isn’t enough time to organize a homemade supper every night.

To help with this modern-day problem, the Sugar Valley Rural Charter School Community Engagement Program, along with the PA Beef Council and Nicholas Meat LLC, recently hosted an evening of food and fun, where participants learned how to make, not one, but two, from-scratch entrees in under an hour.

The class, titled “A Cut Above,” is the second culinary workshop sponsored by Nicholas Meat, LLC at Sugar Valley Rural Charter School.

Katie Dotterer, owner of AgvoKate LLC; and registered dietician nutritionist, Beth Stark from PA Beef Council; along with SVRCS Community Engagement Liaison, Dawn Jeffries, led 16 cooks as they learned not only to whip up a warm dinner, but also how to choose affordable cuts of meat without sacrificing quality and taste.

The recipes were easy to follow, and made from ingredients found in most homes.

Registered dietician nutritionist Beth Stark from PA Beef Council, and Katie Dotterer from AgvoKate, pose with the 16 students from the SVRCS Community Engagement cooking class this month in Loganton.

First on the menu was “simple beef and potato skillet ole,” which could be served as easily for dinner as it could be for brunch. Next was “beef stuffing with apples and cranberries.” With its festive hints of apple and sage, it offered a surprising seasonal flavor, perfect for a potluck, or as an additional dressing on any Thanksgiving table.

While the chefs enjoyed the fruits of their labor, the hosts took a few minutes to talk about beef and the local beef industry.

Stark reminded the audience that beef, when chosen carefully, can be part of a healthy lifestyle, especially when paired with leafy greens and high fiber ingredients.

“As a dietician I try to help people understand, and have a different perception of, what beef can be. I’m not talking about incorporating cheeseburgers from a fast food restaurant into your diet every day. What we are talking about is bringing beef together with other ingredients like whole grains, or vegetables like kale, as part of a healthy eating pattern,” Stark said. “When you think about beef as part of a heart healthy diet, it’s about a lean cut and controlled portion.”

According to Stark, that portion should be about three ounces, or approximately the size of the palm of your hand.

She also focused on the benefits of eating beef during this time of year when colds and viruses are starting to peak.

“Here we are going into flu season and the more you do to boost your immune system, the better. You get half the protein you need for a whole day, from one portion of beef,” she said.

She explained that the same serving of beef delivers impressive doses of essential vitamins and minerals like iron, B12, B6 and immune-boosting zinc.

Dotterer offered a little background history into who Nicholas Meat LLC is as a community member.

“Nicholas Meat is a family owned USDA federally inspected beef harvest and fabrication plant located right here in Sugar Valley, who has been in business for over 30 years,” she stated. “The company employs 400 people in order to efficiently harvest about 700 head of cattle a day. These cattle are purchased directly from farmers locally and across the state and region, such as my family farm right in the next valley over, near Lamar.”

As far as new and interesting news with Nicholas Meat goes, Katie brought up the topic that everyone is wondering about — the upcoming Sustainable Resource Facility.

“One of the biggest things happening right now at the plant is the construction of the Sustainable Resource Facility (SRF),” she explained. “The state-of-the-art facility is an innovative and comprehensive environmental management system that will allow Nicholas Meat to reuse water and generate green energy from biogas.”

“97% of the company’s waste stream is water, therefore the first phase focuses on the water recycling portion of the SRF and will make the most positive and immediate impact on the environment,” she continued. “The facility will help reduce truck traffic on the roads, contain and minimize odor, create renewable energy, decrease the company’s carbon footprint and capture greenhouse gases.”

The evening ended with a delicious, sweet treat of pumpkin dip and ginger snap cookies, that elicited “oohs and ahhs,” from every table.

For more information on the next cooking class at SVRCS, watch your local newspaper, the school website or contact Dawn Jeffries at

To try out the beef recipes used for this cooking class, please visit the recipe section of the PA Beef Council website.