Converse County School Board honors donors and businesses for supporting local school program
Douglas – On Nov. 14, at a Converse County School Board (CCSB) meeting, multiple donors and businesses were honored for donating cattle and pigs to the Converse County School District (CCSD), for their Farm to School program.
Monty Gilbreath, CCSD food service director, took to the podium to recognize the donors and explain how Converse County schools have benefited from the Farm to School program, which uses donated animal meat for school lunches.
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow also spoke, thanking donors, businesses, CCSB and Gilbreath for all of their hard work.
“Converse County is leading the state with their Farm to School program, and they should be very proud,” said Balow.
Farm to school
In 2013, Gilbreath, Sen. Brian Boner and Brook Brockman, Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) training and grants coordinator, held a meeting to discuss how to introduce Wyoming’s largest commodity into the statewide lunch program.
“Sen. Boner helped get this pilot program off the ground by introducing Senate File 123 (SF123), titled School Nutrition Pilot Project,” said Gilbreath.
SF123 allows WDE to spend $25,000 on meat processing fees for pilot programs to increase the amount of Wyoming poultry, lamb, pork, beef and bison used in school lunch programs.
After the bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead, Balow and her staff offered the School Nutrition Pilot Grant Program to all Wyoming school districts.
The grant program helps school districts recover some costs for processing state certified, donated animals that are raised in Wyoming, according to Gilbreath.
“CCSD Number One received $2,046 from the School Nutrition Pilot Grant Program, which is in its second year of operation,” said Gilbreath, noting there was a seven percent increase in September and a 12 percent increase in October for lunch participation at the high school level.
“With 50 percent of the student body eating hot lunch, a rate that hasn’t been so high in many years, the Farm to School program is showing results and making a difference,” he stated.
Gilbreath thanked local producers and business who donated animals to the program, noting CCSD has received 23 head of cattle and four pigs since January 2017.
He also thanked CCSB and CCSD Superintendent Paige Fenton Hughes for their commitment to providing health meals at an affordable price for students.
“Jay Butler, CCSB member, coordinated the pick-up and delivery of donated animals for our Farm to School and we can’t thank him enough,” added Gilbreath.
He then thanked CCSD kitchen and nutrition staff for creating great recipes, using donated products and for their hard work.
Wooden plaques engraved with donor brands and logos were created by high school woodshop teacher Jeff Barnett and four woodshop students.
“These plaques will be on display in the lobby of the Douglas Recreation Center as a reminder of the local support for the Farm to School Program,” Gilbreath stated.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.