A delicious partnership: Serving Iowa State-raised turkey at campus dining locations

Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility at sunrise with a semi truck and trailer off to the left waiting to be loaded up with turkeys.
The first flock of turkeys raised at the Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility were recently loaded onto a semi and transported to West Liberty Foods for processing. The resulting oven roasted turkey breast will be served at ISU Dining locations this fall.

AMES, Iowa - The Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University has partnered with ISU Dining and West Liberty Foods to utilize some of the turkey produced at Iowa State in campus dining centers.

The first flock of turkeys raised at the Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility was recently sent to West Liberty Foods in West Liberty for processing. This fall, students, faculty and staff will get to enjoy the resulting oven roasted turkey breast at ISU Dining locations.

Serving the turkey produced at the Balloun facility provides Iowa State students and employees with locally sourced protein while supporting the university’s animal science program.

“It's a win-win situation that helps increase awareness and educate our students on where their food comes from,” said Jason Ross, animal science department chair.

West Liberty Foods semi backed up to a loading dock at the ISU Dining drop off location on Iowa State University's campus.
West Liberty Foods delivered to ISU Dining 7,000 pounds of oven roasted turkey breast, which came from turkeys raised at Iowa State's Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility. The turkey will be served at dining locations on campus this fall.

The Balloun facility opened in the fall of 2022, serving a dual purpose of providing education and research opportunities while also producing high-quality turkey meat. The university’s first-ever dedicated turkey teaching and research facility provides students a living classroom to experience hands-on learning in modern production practices. The facility features state-of-the-art equipment for research that addresses current challenges and helps advance Iowa’s turkey industry, one of the largest in the United States.

“We are proud that the turkeys raised at our Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility are not only providing our students with hands-on learning experiences, but also will be incorporated into the variety of food offerings at Iowa State’s campus dining locations,” said Daniel J. Robison, holder of the endowed dean’s chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It’s terrific to see the work we do at Iowa State related to food production close the loop with the broader campus through our partnerships with the Iowa turkey industry, the Iowa Turkey Federation, and in this case, the terrific collaboration with West Liberty Foods.”

West Liberty Foods is vertically integrated in turkey and owned by a co-op of turkey growers. The company specializes in the production of fully-cooked, value-added turkey products and various other offerings utilizing pork, chicken and beef. With multiple facilities across the United States, West Liberty Foods is a leading producer of turkey products in the country. Through this partnership with Iowa State entities, 7,000 pounds of oven roasted turkey breast will be utilized in campus dining centers.

"This is an excellent opportunity for West Liberty Foods to enhance our partnership with Iowa State," said Brandon Achen, president and CEO of West Liberty Foods. "We couldn't be more proud of the research being done on behalf of the turkey industry, right here in our backyard."

ISU Dining offers a wide variety of food options to students, faculty and staff at over 20 locations on campus. The dining services team is committed to providing fresh, nutritious and sustainable meals. By utilizing some of the meat produced at Iowa State’s turkey facility, they will be able to provide a unique and educational dining experience.

“ISU Dining has long supported local producers. We are continually seeking ways to keep our purchases within the state of Iowa and are excited to add this unique partnership with West Liberty Foods and the Department of Animal Science to the list,” said Nolan Green, executive chef for ISU Dining.

For individuals interested in learning more about turkey production, the Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility offers continuing education, outreach and peer-to-peer opportunities for professionals in the industry and observation areas where visitors can see first-hand examples of turkey production systems. Learn more by visiting the Balloun facility's website.


Jason Ross, Department of Animal Science, 515-294-8647, jwross@iastate.edu
Michelle Hiscocks, Department of Animal Science, 515-294-5517, michhisc@iastate.edu