School Surrounded by Cattle Ranch Tries Meatless Monday

May 11th, 2015


The historic Orme School is an international prep school set on 300 acres in rural Arizona and surrounded by a 32,000 acre cattle ranch. According to Patti Marrs, Director of Food Services, “we literally meet our meat on the road.” The school began Meatless Mondays this past January.

In many ways, joining Meatless Monday fits with the values set forth in their mission statement of creating a supportive and diverse community, and encouraging “inner resourcefulness, integrity, respect and accountability for self and others.’ In addition to rigorous classroom instruction (the student to teacher ratio is 3 to 1) they emphasize “hands-on learning and both environmental and aesthetic awareness.”  Patti Marrs, graciously answered all of our questions via email. Here are some excerpts.

Q: Who Initiated Meatless Mondays at Orme?

I made the suggestion to our administration staff to go meatless on Mondays because it fits our program and mission to create a more sustainable school community and to protect our planet. We decided together to introduce the concept for the new year. We have an all school formal dinner 2 times a month and chose the first one in January to be meatless and “sold” the idea to our community that night. 


Q: How do the students feel about it?

Reaction was mixed at first. Our students involved in sports were very worried about “protein” and where they were going to get it. Education was key in winning them over. Because we serve each student one at a time this type of information was passed at the serving line. All students have most definitely learned alternative sources of protein other than meat.

Q: How about faculty?

The faculty and staff can be tough nuts. Most for the skepticism came from that direction. These folks are much more set in their ways and are a bit more reluctant to try new things as well as experience different tastes. They ask a lot of questions as they pass through the serving line and most will end up with something new on their plate.


 Q: Sometimes Meatless Monday inspires people to try new things.  Has that been the case at your school?

Yes. We try to serve the most nutrient dense food possible. This means our population is served purple flesh potatoes, purple carrots, yellow flesh watermelon, blood oranges, quinoa, farro, and chia seeds to name a few. We are very lucky and are in a unique situation that allows us to be full circle. Our students start plants from seed, plant and maintain the school’s garden… prepare the harvest, compost the waste and return the composted matter to the soil. We have access to 100% grass beef (no finishing on grains) and a beautiful 3/4 acre state certified “Approved Source” vegetable garden, an orchard with 200 assorted fruit trees, and are in the planting stage of a new vineyard. We are in a mild climate surrounded by many small family farms that are supported by the Verde River that provide fresh produce to us as well. We are truly a “Garden to Table, Farm to Table, Orchard to Table, Ranch to Table” dining hall.

Q: So is Meatless Monday a success so far?

As an International boarding high school our kitchen (Founders Kitchen) serves 1,590 meals per week. I figure after being meatless for the past 17 Mondays, we have not eaten 680 pounds of chicken and 420 pounds of beef. So yes!

We thank Patti Marrs for her thoughtful answers, for sending lots of great photos, and for initiating Meatless Monday at Orme School. See more about Founders Kitchen on facebook.