Mt. Ararat High School senior Minna Pratte-Chase with her steer S’mores, who she raised for nearly a year for The Bowdoinham Food Pantry. Courtesy of Jennifer Stonebraker

A 17-year-old Mt. Ararat High School senior donated about 400 pounds of beef to the Bowdoinham Food Pantry, harvested from a steer named S’mores that she raised.

Minna Pratte-Chase and her family purchased S’mores for $100 from a dairy farm in May 2023, when the 90-pound calf was about 3 days old. Pratte-Chase raised S’mores throughout the summer, fall and winter, with plans to donate the meat to the food pantry.

Over 400 pounds of packaged ground beef Minna Pratte-Chase sourced locally and donated to the Bowdoinham Food Pantry. Courtesy of Jennifer Stonebraker

It was hard to let go of S’mores and equally challenging to raise the steer at Pratte-Chase’s home in Bowdoinham. The family built a shed for S’mores but moved him to the barn with their horses because S’mores got lonely in his shed, Pratte-Chase said.

“I have lived in Bowdoinham for most of my life, and my mom has volunteered [at the food pantry] for as long as I can remember, so going there has always been something that my family has done, and we love all the people there,” Pratte-Chase said.

Pratte-Chase met with Bowdoinham Food Pantry Director Jennifer Stonebraker in March to discuss what cuts of beef would benefit the community the most. They decided to produce one-pound packages of individually wrapped ground beef.

Pratte-Chase handed S’mores over to the butcher at L.P. Bissons & Sons Inc. in Topsham on March 14, with the steer weighing an estimated 1,000 pounds. Toward the end of March, over 400 pounds of locally raised beef was delivered to the Bowdoinham Food Pantry. Even the bones were used to make broth.


“From start to finish, [Pratte-Chase] completely took control of this project,” Stonebraker said. “We did not have to do anything, and we are so grateful for that.”

Low-income families should not have to compromise their health for easy access to food, and this is one reason why the Bowdoinham Food Pantry wants to provide its shoppers with locally sourced, healthy products, Stonebraker said. The food pantry serves 55–65 families per week and is open from 4-6 p.m. every Wednesday.

Around a dozen families that can’t easily get transportation to the pantry get deliveries from pantry volunteers.

“We are having a harder time sourcing meat protein for folks, and what we get comes in really big packages that are harder to distribute,” Stonebraker said.

Beef steer S’mores pokes his nose through the bars at Minna Pratte-Chase’s home in Bowdoinham. Courtesy of Minna Pratte-Chase

During the pandemic, the food pantry had a hard time getting enough protein into the pantry, which sparked Pratte-Chase’s idea of raising beef to donate.

Pratte-Chase did not expect S’mores to get so big so fast, feeding him some of his mother’s milk and then mixing the milk with formula for cows for about four months before switching to grain and hay. For the last two months, S’mores ate corn.

The community reaction was one of praise because Bowdoin and Bowdoinham residents were used to receiving lower-quality items, according to Stonebraker. Some have been sharing the recipes they made from locally raised beef.

“I am honored to say that we can offer high-quality options at the pantry, and we can do so because of our incredible donors like Minna,” Stonebraker said.

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