The South Dakota Beef Industry Council’s Build Your Base program is a comprehensive sports nutrition program that utilizes beef as its premier protein.

The SDBIC partnered with Sanford Health and the Sanford Sports Science Institute to create a three-year pilot program in the fall of 2018, which was, "designed to help those athletes have that successful season by incorporating positive nutritional habits alongside all of their routines," according to executive director of SDBIC Suzanne Geppert.

The program was originally targeted toward high school football programs and 10 were willing to participate. The following year, the program expanded to 27 schools that included Mitchell and Chamberlain high school as well as University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University. Augustana University and Black Hills State University would follow suit in 2020 along with 33 other high schools and colleges.

“We try to give them as many tools and as much information as possible to make it as easy as possible for them so that this process doesn’t have to be replicated across the whole state,” assistant director of Sanford Sports Science Institute Thayne Munce said. “Sometimes people haven’t prepared a meal for 50 kids before and sometimes that’s difficult, but we walk them through that. What to purchase, how much to purchase, how to prepare and how to distribute.”

As of today, more than 50 high schools, colleges and communities in South Dakota utilize this program as a resource to supply a healthier lifestyle for athletes.

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The Sioux Falls Storm indoor football team have just become the first professional team to be a part of the program in 2021.

United States Olympic athletes Chris Nilsen, Katie Nageotte, Emily Grove, Erica Bougard and Deanna Price all endorsed the Build Your Base with beef program as they competed in this year's U.S. Track and Field Trials. Former NFL running back Zach Zenner and Miss Rodeo America Jordan Teirney also have begun to endorse the program.

“We started this program expecting it to grow and reach beyond the borders of South Dakota,” Munce said.

Other states including North Dakota, Iowa, Montana, Kansas, New York, Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania are all states who currently have the opportunity to apply for the program.

The Build Your Base with beef program is free for any school that applies and is accepted.

For a school to be accepted, the school must apply for the program stating what potential sports will be participating, the number of student-athletes enrolled, how the school plans to communicate and implement the program with parents, athletes and community partners, and how the school will carry out pre and post-game meals for the athletes. In addition, the school must supply three goals that the program will help the school achieve.

The program does help the school immensely by promoting beef through educational videos, nutritional expert presentations and workshops, access to experts in the field, and meal plans and recipes to aid the athlete in their daily regimen.

Assistant Athletic Director of Black Hills State University Thayer Trenhaile said they use the program for all of their collegiate sports and the grant-funded program makes it convenient for athletes.

“If we get a roast, we show them how they can use that roast in the crock pot and then they’ll have a warm meal waiting for them after practice,” Trenhaile said. “Some of the products that we do get we use for educational purposes. It’s easy to make and it won’t break the budget for a college student.”

Not every meal provided will have to be cooked as the SDBIC works alongside SDSU Meat Science department to provide meal preparation workshops and snacks to help muscle preservation and recovery. On average, a 3-ounce serving of beef is only 170 calories, but still provides essential nutrients like iron, B vitamins and zinc.

“We know that beef has a lot of positive qualities,” Geppert said. “It is nutrient dense and it’s a complete protein that gives you all of those essential amino acids. We feel that it’s a good fit. We know that it increases satiety and we know that it’s a powerhouse when it comes to building and repairing a muscle.”