Local and sustainable are two words that are used to describe Coulee Region Farm2School when it comes to providing products and food. Serving local foods is a goal of many schools throughout the state and country, but Coulee Region schools are leaders in this arena! The Holmen School District is implementing a new innovative program this year that truly brings the farm to the plate. In the past, the Holmen School District, in partnership with the district’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program has already been raising chickens for the school meal program, and this year they will be raising 17 hogs as well. FFA students will raise the hogs, and they will then be processed at Craig’s Meats in Mindoro, a state inspected facility. After processing, they’ll make their way onto students’ plates! We are looking at serving pork chops, some brat burgers, adding Italian sausage in some casseroles and even some real BBQ ribs to our students at our high school” said Nutrition Services Supervisor Michael Gasper. These hogs will supply the district with over 3,000 pork chops alone.
While chickens and hogs feed large amount of students in the district, the Holmen School District also has a hydroponic system to grow lettuce, a large plot of sweet corn, a potato garden and the largest school run asparagus garden in the state. These gardens produce over 1300 dozen ears of corn and over 10,000 pounds of potatoes. Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Roger King said “Learning what it takes to get food from farm to table is an invaluable life lesson for students”.
Coulee Region Farm2School is a partnership between La Crosse County Health Department, Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare, Gundersen Health System, and the School Districts of Bangor, Holmen, La Crescent-Hokah, La Crosse, Onalaska, and West Salem. Farm2School helps connect local farmers with area schools so fresh and locally grown foods can be served during school meals and helps children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices can impact their bodies, the environment, and the community. For questions about Farm2School, contact Maggie.