Have you ever wondered where the food your child is eating during their school lunch originates?
This past Friday, the meat on the menu for students in the Redwood Area School District came from a source much closer to home – about two miles from the school’s front doors.
For the third year in a row, the hamburgers and hot dogs students were served as part of the Homecoming Week festivities came from Shady Knoll Farm and its owner /operator Dan Tiffany.
The use of local food continues to be a focus for the lunch program through what is known as Farm to School – a program which connects school lunch program officials with producers who are in the neighborhood.
Tiffany said he learned about the Farm to School program and began asking questions, as well as approaching the local school’s food service program, Taher Food Service to see if they would be interested in trying what he offers.
Tiffany said he has been working with Laurie Milbrandt for a long time in order to get his foot in the door.
There were certainly challenges to face, including meeting specific standards, such as having the meat processed in a USDA certified location.
Tiffany found that processing location closer to home than he imagined at Deutschland Meats in Sanborn.
Tiffany said the whole process has been a major learning experience, and he said Laurie has been great to work with throughout the process.
Milbrandt said she enjoys the chance to work with local producers. Earlier in the day, she had students at Reede Gray shucking sweet corn she had purchased locally. That was also on Friday’s menu.
Tiffany said the name Shady Knoll Farm was a business name his dad actually came up with, and he opted to use it.
The beef operation is unique in that Tiffany offers grass finished beef. The breed he raises are a Red Devon South Poll cross, which originates in New Zealand, he said, and he gets the calves from a certified organic operation. Although he uses no antibiotics or even pesticides or herbicides on his pasture, Tiffany can’t call his beef organic because he is not certified.
“I think being able to offer local products is a huge thing,” said Tiffany, adding he is one choice the school can make. “I like to know I am giving Laurie another option.”
Tiffany admitted eating grass finished beef was something even he had to be convinced of, but he admits now it is a high quality, healthy product.
Tiffany’s herd is relatively small at 13 head, but he said he is increasing the size of his pasture and plans to increase his herd accordingly.
Page 2 of 2 - If the faces of the students who ate the burgers and hot dogs are any indication, the future certainly looks bright for Farm to School at RASD and Shady Knoll Farm.