For many students when they go home from Pike Valley High School they know where the food on their dinner table came from. Thanks to some generous neighbors in the community, they know at school as well.
Monday’s lunch was hamburgers from local beef topped with lettuce the students grew. Cafeteria workers also regularly serve ham, roast, sausage, vegetables and other donated products.
All of that food is fresh because it was raised locally.
“You can tell a difference if we buy it and it was frozen versus if it’s fresh,” said Pike Valley High School senior Mekenzie Ehlers.
“I definitely think it tastes better, but it also adds the value of you know where you’re food is coming from,” said classmate Brailyn Carlgren.
It all started when one man wanted to help out the school, so he gifted the school one of his cattle.
“His family donated the first beef and then he kind of got one of his buddies to donate a beef and then we thought, hey we should really make this into a more structured program,” said agriculture education teacher Katie Carlgren.
So the Panther Producers program was born.
Community members have been donating cattle, pigs, and produce ever since. The school has saved thousands of dollars because of the donated food.
The school’s Future Farmers of America organization collects donations with support from the Pike Valley Foundation.
Students also grow plants in a greenhouse and tend to chickens in agriculture classes.
Pike Valley Foundation President Tanner Johnson said both the actual food and knowledge behind it is beneficial.
“The kids are seeing all that and that’s important for them to see in the school that the community is supporting them for one, and two just learning more about where there food comes from and how it’s raised,” he said.
From the farm to the table, that has let these students experience tastier meals each day of the week.
They’re hoping to grow the program so students can help raise bigger animals like cattle and develop new skills in the future.