Note: At its Dec. 6 Women in Business Breakfast, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce named twelve Women of Distinction for 2020. In recognition of their achievements, the Morning Sun will be publishing profiles of each Woman of Distinction.
McCUNE — Schenker Family Farms is based in southeast Kansas, but does business both nationwide and internationally.
“We ship our meats all over the country,” said Cherie Schenker. “We’re one of two companies in the US that ships meat overseas — to Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Kuwait, places like that — to our soldiers.”
As part of a feasibility study of expanding their operations several years ago, however, Schenker was reminded that her community was a food desert — an area with limited access to high-quality, fresh food. That gave her the idea of opening McCune Farm to Market.
“We felt it important to address that issue for our community,” Schenker said, “so we doubled our footprint in our building plan and added a micro-grocery and farm-to-table cafe under the same roof.”
McCune Farm to Market opened for business in August 2017.
“We work with several local farmers and gardeners to provide farm fresh eggs, local meats, local produce — as much as possible, local pecans, local honey — as much as we can get locally and then the rest, you know, we fill in the blanks,” Schenker said.
Although Schenker’s family settled in the McCune area in the 19th century, she moved away for a while in the 1990s to attend college in Missouri, earning an undergraduate degree in communications and a master’s in business management.
Today, she works at McCune Farm to Market alongside her daughter, who has also been going to Labette Community College while getting ready to transfer to Pittsburg State University.
Schenker’s husband works on the farm. She also has a son in college in Missouri, and two other children who are too young to work either at the farm or McCune Farm to Market, although they do help out now and then.
Last year, McCune Farm to Market started offering classes — “anything from artisan bread making, to soap making, cheese making, fudge making, you name it, canning, pasta making, things that people want to learn how to do, that maybe they remember their grandparents doing but they never really learned how to do it.”
Cherie Schenker has served her community on the city council, township board, and positions with various other boards. But on a day to day basis, her focus is on providing a service to her community that may seem simple, but actually requires a lot of work and dedication — easy, affordable access to good food.
“We’ve got to know our neighbors better,” since opening McCune Farm to Market, Schenker said. “We focus on community. It’s about the community, it’s not about us.”