Farm to School program served in Mason County


By Brittany Hively - bhively@aimmediamidwest.com



Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School recently had fresh pulled pork sandwiches for lunch as a part of the Farm to School program.

Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School recently had fresh pulled pork sandwiches for lunch as a part of the Farm to School program.


Brittany Hively | OVP

POINT PLEASANT — October is National Farm to School Month, where schools across the nation celebrate the ability to serve locally grown food on the school’s lunch trays.

“Most people think they’re buying produce,” said Beverly Glaze, director child nutrition Mason County Schools. “Lettuce, peppers, strawberries, which we did too, more before the pandemic, but it’s been a little bit less than that.”

Glaze said after students from county organizations like 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) show their animals at the county fair, the animals are purchased by several local businesses. Sometimes those businesses sell them again, which is when the school system will step in.

“[Sometimes] a business buys that steer, but they don’t really want it, they’re doing it for the kids,” Glaze said. “They go back in and say, ‘we don’t really want this, we’re going to resell it.’ And we buy all those animals, pretty much. And then we buy animals that are ones that didn’t make it to sale. So, they still get some money for the animal that they raised.”

Glaze said before purchase, the national price is watched.

“We come in with ‘I will pay so much per pound,’ and that’s just before the sale really happens because you have to win,” Glaze said. “You’re going to be the person chosen to buy all these [animals].”

This is something the county superintendent is in charge of Glaze said.

After purchase the county has the animals processed locally at K&L Processing.

“We have them processed and then down at our board office we have a freezer, which was paid for by a USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] grant to grow Farm to School,” Glaze said.

Glaze said afterwards it is determined how to implement the pork and beef into the school lunch and breakfast programs.

Mason County is one of two counties in West Virginia that purchases animals from the county fair to use for school lunches, purchasing both beef and pork.

Wetzel County purchases local beef cattle from students through the fair as well, according to Bekki Leigh, coordinator West Virginia Department of Education Food and Nutrition.

“This has benefits for students that have raised beef cattle and are able to sell to the students,” Leigh said. “For the school administrators to promote and support these young entrepreneurs and for the cafeteria to have local beef available on the menu.”

Glaze said she has been with Mason County for six years and the program began before she arrived.

When it comes to sharing the program, Glaze said many people she has spoken to have never heard of it.

“But we’re lucky because we have the fair right there and we have a processor right in our backyard,” Glaze said. “When they passed that legislative action that we have to spend five percent on local, we really weren’t scrambling that much because we come close to $60,000 a year locally on these animals. We pay a local business to process them. The kids get pure meat, it doesn’t have any soy fillers.”

Glaze said through the program they are able to provide students with fresh ground beef, beef patties, pork and pork sausage.

“I come from a farming background and my kids showed animals in the fair and they put a lot of expense into those animals and raising them,” Glaze said. “We’re giving back to the kids. We’re supporting the kids. We’re supporting the community. The kids get fresh local meat that we can’t purchase anywhere else.”

At first Glaze said there was worry about the kid’s thoughts on the difference in taste, but said now they love it more.

Glaze said she works with several local Mason County farmers to help provide locally grown food to students. She said COVID-19 regulations have made salad bars difficult at the moment.

Each year the Farm to School program chooses a theme for the month’s awareness celebration. This year’s campaign is “Our Food, Our Future,” according to the Farm to School website, showcasing the youth’s hopes and ideas on the future of the food system with “six community values– economic and environmental justice, health, racial equity, workers’ rights, and animal welfare – for a racially just food system.”

According to the Farm to Fresh website, 42% of schools in the United States participate in the program engaging 23.6 million students, 42,500 schools and spending $789 million on local food.

© 2021, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School recently had fresh pulled pork sandwiches for lunch as a part of the Farm to School program.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2021/10/web1_DSC_0073.jpgPoint Pleasant Junior/Senior High School recently had fresh pulled pork sandwiches for lunch as a part of the Farm to School program. Brittany Hively | OVP

By Brittany Hively

bhively@aimmediamidwest.com

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow or on Twitter @britthively or reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow or on Twitter @britthively or reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.