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The Tri County Farm to Fork program was able to bring together beef and pork producers in the area to provide one meal per month for elementary and secondary school students.

The program maintains an educational component to help students understand nutritional value, as well as understand where their food comes from and the agricultural production practices used to produce animal feed.

“We started at the FFA alumni meetings, but we formed our own committee,” said Kirk Holtmeier, Farm to Fork treasurer. “We just wanted to offer fresh produce to the children. We grill around 450 to 500 patties each month on equipment built by the kids in the store ”,

Ryan Clark, director of Tri County, said the school was grateful for the program.

“Our administration supported this program 110%,” he said. “Farming is such a big part of the community and obviously the fresh produce has been a key part of the program, but our children benefit from the generous donations and support from the community, that’s the biggest benefit. Not everyone has this opportunity.

“It’s a lot bigger than just lunch,” Clark added.

Dave Barnard, agricultural instructor and FFA advisor, works with FFA students to educate elementary school students in animal and plant production.

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“We had coloring contests, posters, read books in class and today they can guess the weight of the gilding we have in the trailer,” he said. “Some of the students helped create your own pizza project. They got to know the wheat for making the dough, then the meat, cheese and vegetables.

“The classroom grow tower is used to grow lettuce. We have correspondents in Omaha who are also part of our agricultural literacy program. We are one of two schools in the state to have a single central hub. The kids subsidized writing and fundraising and it’s up to us. We’re going to grow soybeans the first year.

There are about 70 young people participating in the Tri County FFA program.

August Gerlach, a student from Tri County, said he thinks the Farm to Fork program is good.

“It’s a great way for elementary and even high school students to find out what’s going on,” said Gerlach.

Mya Maxwell said she liked the Farm to Fork program as a nice break after lunch at school.

Cafeteria manager Nicky Porter said she loves to halve fresh beef and pork.

“Fortunately, we have a great farming community who are willing to donate meat and produce,” said volunteer Brandon Esau. “Unfortunately, the cost of processing meat has increased dramatically, but we are still able to provide the meat to children at no cost to them.

“Our budget is around $ 16,000 per year. The goal is to secure commitments to the program that would sustain this effort for at least three years. We estimate a need for six oxen and twelve pigs per year and funds to process the meat. “

Any donation of beef or pork market animals, cereals through the local or financial cooperative is tax deductible.


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