Brightwater to Develop a New Butchery Program | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Brightwater to Develop a New Butchery Program

Three Pieces of Meat

Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, a department of NWACC, recently received a $650,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop a new butchery program. The program will offer a pathway for students to earn an Artisanal Butchery Certificate and develop the technical butchery skills and the business knowledge needed to run an artisanal butcher shop. Brightwater plans to offer the certificate program in the fall of 2024. 

"Our butchery program is truly groundbreaking for Northwest Arkansas. Students will experience an intensive and immersive curriculum, enriched by the involvement of community leaders who possess a strong expertise in the field of butchery," said Brightwater Executive Director Marshall Shafkowitz.

The program's curriculum encompasses comprehensive training in retail butchery skills, food safety and fundamental charcuterie techniques. Students will produce substantial quantities of charcuterie items and gain practical experience by staffing and managing a retail butcher shop located within the 8th Street Market. They will assist customers at the raw meat and ready-to-eat deli counters, handle financial transactions and manage inventory.

Graduates will be well-positioned for a variety of roles, including retail butchers, meat cutters, artisanal deli specialists, restaurant butchers and entrepreneurs. They will possess the expertise and knowledge necessary to oversee operations ranging from fee-for-service custom processing facilities to retail butcher shops or delis featuring their own products.

USDA grant funds were distributed throughout Arkansas and other states to institutions like Brightwater to support the expansion of meat and processing capacities and help address the lack of local, small-scale meat processing capacity. Such limited capacity proved to not meet consumer demand for locally grown meat products during the COVID-19-related disruptions. By expanding Arkansas's meat processing capacity and its skilled workforce, the state hopes to have a more resilient food system that benefits producers, consumers and rural communities.


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