CAHS Revitalizes PVAMU’s Founding Focus with Groundbreaking of New Meat Lab
August 5 – Students, alumni, College of Agriculture and Human Sciences faculty and staff, and a host of guests gathered at the Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Farm and Ranch to break ground on what will soon become Prairie View A&M University’s Meat Lab.
CAHS Dean and Director of Land Grant Programs, Dr. Gerard D’Souza opened the brief ceremony sharing the importance of the new building. “This facility will greatly benefit students. It will enhance their skill set through hands-on and experiential learning about food handling and processing, adding value to meat products, and working alongside faculty mentors to create exciting new project innovations. It will make them more marketable and ultimately, more productive people.” Several notable guests attended the ceremony, including City of Prairie View Mayor David Allen, PVAMU Agriculture Alumni Chapter President E.W. Wesley, and PVAMU President, Dr. Ruth Simmons who noted in her remarks that the CAHS “has been the lifeblood of this university since its founding in 1876.” PVAMU Senior Animal Science major Camryn Davis introduced the groundbreaking sequence participants which included Dr. Alfred Parks, Dr. Carolyn Williams, Dr. Kwaku Addo, Mr. Horace Hodge, Reverend Charles Lewter, IV, Spawglass Regional Operations Manager David Ajlani, and Dillan Davis who serves as the CAHS Mr. Pre-Vet.
The Meat Lab will be an inclusive learning environment with spaces designed to give students access to the food processing sequence from harvest to retail sales. In its 8,220 square foot space, the building will house classrooms, administrative offices, a dry lab, and multiple processing rooms for cutting, freezing, and packaging. Food Systems Research Scientist Dr. Milton Daley is a crucial faculty member whose courses cover the very topic of meat processing, and with the help of this facility, he looks forward to enhancing his program by ensuring students earn their Food Handlers License before graduation. “They will be able to seek better jobs, and their scope and perspective will be wider for agriculture careers.”
Current CAHS projects that will directly benefit from this new facility include the student garden on the farm and the Integrated Food Security Research Center that is led by Dr. Deland Myers. He shares that the Meat Lab will heavily contribute to students’ evaluation of the entire food system, mainly focusing on the meat goats raised on the farm. “We have meat goats, so we’re on the production side, but we haven’t been able to do the processing side. This [meat lab] fills that gap. It’s going to put us in a very unique position from a research standpoint.”
Like the original Animal Industries building that operated on the University Farm for several decades before closing in 2009, there are plans for the facility to be a place for learning, as well as a food source for the university and the surrounding communities by providing fresh meat products for retail. The construction of this $6 million facility is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The Meat Lab has a projected one-year construction timeline to be completed by June 2020 and prepared for operation by the Fall 2020 semester.
This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 1890 Extension Formula Program projects under Section 1444.