New Meat Locker in Corning Encourages Locals to Buy in Bulk from Livestock Farmers

Livestock farmers and meat-buyers are excited about a new meat locker that just opened in Steuben County. The initiative was launched as part of the Finger Lakes Meat Project, and as reporter Megan Zhang explains, it's trying to bring back the concept of the meat locker.

CORNING, N.Y. -- You can count the number of meat lockers in upstate New York on one hand. The newest meat locker in the state just opened in Steuben County. This locker in Corning is part of the Finger Lakes Meat Project, launched by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

"Some people may remember, you know, either their parents or their grandparents visiting. Back in the 60s, they were really popular, when commercial freezers weren't available at home. People used the common shared facility," said Kerri Bartlett, a Cornell Cooperative Extension educator.

Cornell Cooperative Extension wants to bring back this concept. They've already opened a meat locker in Ithaca, which has been so successful it's filled to capacity and even has a waiting list.

The purpose of the Finger Lakes Meat Project is two-fold. Not only will people know where to go if they want to buy meat in bulk, but they'll also have a place to store it.

The organization created an online farm directory to help locals find livestock farmers who sell meat in bulk. Buyers can purchase meat directly from farmers, who will have it cut and delivered to the locker for storage.  

"I absolutely think it'll encourage more people to buy meat in bulk. One of the focuses of the meat locker project was to introduce and encourage people to try to buy meat from their local farmers," said Heather Sanford, owner of the Piggery Farm in Ithaca.

Farmers like Sandford say there are many benefits to buying meat in bulk from local farms, instead of grocery stores.

"The first thing is actually keeping money in our own community. So if we're looking to pay people living wages here, keep them in our community, it's actually a great way to not be exporting funds. Also, transparency. If you're buying from a local farmer, nine times out of ten, they're raising their animals outside on pastures with better feed systems and better care," added Sandford.

The Corning Meat Locker offers a 25 gallon bin for $8 a month, or an 18 gallon bin for $5 a month. But if you don't act fast, you could end up on the waiting list.

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