The Williams Works initiative at Williams Baptist University is expanding its operations with the opening of a meat processing plant. The facility processes cattle, hogs and other livestock, and it is staffed in large part by WBU students who are working their way to an education through Williams Works. Future plans also call for a certificate program to train workers in meat cutting.
“Williams Baptist University’s meat processing plant will enable us to serve local livestock producers with an excellent processing service in a state inspected facility,” said Lucas Martin, manager of the plant. “This facility is a blessing to the university because we will be able to provide excellent products and processing services to our local community and will provide jobs for Williams Works students.”
The processing plant received its official stamp of approval from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture on Nov. 16, with Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on hand to make the presentation. The Department of Health likewise approved the facility for retail meat sales.
‘Major step forward’
The plant has the capacity to handle 20–25 cattle per week, providing an outlet for local and regional farmers who have lacked nearby facilities to process their livestock. The WBU in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, processing plant also plans to sell products such as beef jerky, breakfast sausage, specialty sausages and brats, summer sausage and snack sticks.
“We are delighted to have the WBU meat processing facility open, and it was especially gratifying to have Gov. Sanders here to help us mark the occasion,” said Stan Norman, WBU president. “This is a major step forward for the Williams Works initiative, and it also fills a significant void for our local farmers, who have been waiting months to have their livestock processed due to a shortage of facilities like this one.”
Through the Williams Works program, students work 16 hours per week during the school year, and in exchange they receive full tuition and student service fees. In addition, they can apply to work full-time in the summer months to pay for the following year’s room & board.
Williams Works students are assigned to a wide array of workstations. In addition to the processing plant, they work with the Eagle Farms cage-free egg operation, vegetable farm, Williams Corner Store, Hotel Rhea, WBU maintenance and housekeeping, as well as university offices. Student workers are also assigned to community partners, such as Bosch Power Tools, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Fresh Ideas Food Service and several others.
WBU offers more than 25 majors across a broad range of academic disciplines. Students working in the meat processing plant may be in majors unrelated to their work, but they will also learn on the job about meat processing, livestock handling, safe food production and product handling.
Future plans also call for a certificate program to be offered in meat cutting, which is intended to address the current need for workers in the meat processing field.
“We are excited about adding the educational component to our meat processing operation,” Norman said. “The certificate program will be open to students who are enrolled at WBU, as well as to those who are not currently students but want to gain training in this important field of work.”
WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.