Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 11, 2011

Food pantry initiative earns 18-year-old award

Alan Mast raises cattle for donation to Kokomo Urban Outreach.

By Danielle Rush
Tribune staff writer

— The volunteer work Alan Mast does means children in Kokomo get a good meal on Sunday nights.

The 18-year-old founded the Cattle Project in 2010, raising cattle and donating the meat to Kokomo Urban Outreach.

So far, he’s raised and donated meat from two cattle. He currently has five more. Three will be butchered in June, then the other two will be butchered sometime in the fall.

Mast said each steer yields about 600 to 800 pounds of beef, which provides 4,000 to 5,000 meals.

Jeff Newton, Urban Outreach executive director, said his organization pays to have the cattle processed into hamburger, and he is grateful for the assistance.

“We use the hamburger constantly. It saves us tons of money. It has helped us go a long way toward helping kids eat.”

Newton nominated Mast for the United Way of Howard County’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award for his efforts.

Newton said they use the meat a few times a month, in tacos, chili and other dishes, serving about 1,200 meals with it each month.

Mast came up with the idea after volunteering with fellow youth group members from Howard Miami Mennonite Church in the summer of 2009.

The group helped stock the organization’s food pantry, and Mast noticed they did not receive much meat, which is an expensive food item.

He talked to his youth pastor, Sarah Schlegel, about getting people from the church to donate money to buy cattle and feed, so he could raise the animals for Kokomo Urban Outreach.

He started with two calves, with the idea it would take a year to raise them. Newton said right before the animals went to the processor, one was struck by lightning and killed, so Mast raised money to buy a second animal to donate.

Newton said that demonstrates Mast’s commitment to this project.

“He said he was going to have two, so he had to have two,” Newton said.

Newton said Mast does not brag about his project.

“He’s very humble and quiet. He’s not a big talker,” he said.

Mast cares for the animals daily, fitting that work in around school and his job at a dairy farm.

He will graduate from Northwestern High School this spring, and plans to study animal agri-business at Purdue in the fall. He is already training a youth group friend, Michael Stites, to take care of the cattle while he is at school.

Mast said it is exciting to be recognized, but “I didn’t do it to be put on a pedestal, I just did it to try to help people in need.”

• Danielle Rush is the Kokomo Tribune education reporter. She can be reached at 765-454-8585 or danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com.