MASON COUNTY — For a gardener, nothing is perhaps more gratifying than sitting down to a meal prepared with of homegrown ingredients right out of the back yard and students in Mason County will soon get to experience that same feeling.
On August 28, Mason County Schools will be kicking off the Farm to School Program. Through this program, Mason County students will have the opportunity to dine on locally grown produce and other food items starting off with a full meal made from only local products.
In preparation for this program, the Mason County Board of Education (BOE) recently purchased five steers from the Mason County Fair’s Livestock Sale. It was reported that the five steers, which were raised by local 4-H and FFA members, were originally purchased and then put up for resale and purchased by United Producers Livestock. The BOE then purchased the five steers from United Producers Livestock to be used in the kick-off day of this program.
As well as the five locally raised steers, Mason County BOE is also purchasing locally grown potatoes, summer squash, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, as well as hamburger buns made from wheat grown in Mason County.
“I’m very excited about participating in the Farm to School Program,” said Mason County Schools Superintendent Suzanne Dickens. “It’s wonderful when Mason County Schools can utilize products from local 4-H and FFA members as well as local farmers.”
The Mason County BOE’s Cristi Rulen, Food Service Supervisor/Personnel along with Bekki Leigh, Coordinator for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the West Virginia Board of Education, WVU Extension Service, and the Ag Science teachers in Mason County are working with local producers to make this program a reality. According to a release from the WVU Extension Service, this program is aimed to increase the use of fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs as well as improving viability through increased access to institutional markets.
It was also reported this program can yield a number of benefits for Mason County and the students, including supporting local agriculture and economic development as well as getting the students a higher quality product and help lead Mason County children to healthier food choices and eating habits and reducing obesity and diet-related illnesses.
The meal on August 28 will consist of a hamburger, french fries, green beans, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
For more information on the program, contact Rodney Wallbrown, Extension Agent, at 304-675-0888.