MISSOULA - School lunch is about to get very local, as a new FFA program is launching a student-run farm and processing center that will supply beef to Missoula County Public Schools.
At the Missoula FFA farm, students raise cows, sheep and pigs. And now they'll learn how to butcher meat with a new processing lab, making the program unlike any other in the nation.
"It’s been a dream of mine for about eight years and it finally came together and I'm pretty excited about it," agriculture teacher Tom Andres said.
Now that the lab is up and running, it's giving students an opportunity they won't get anywhere else.
"What this meat lab means for me is hands on learning," Missoula FFA Second Vice President Logan Turner said.
But they are learning more than just how to cut up a cow.
"On this farm, we are going to be able to conceive our animals and then we are going to be able to process them in the meat lab so we are going to have that full cycle up and running," Turner said.
Ultimately, some of the hamburger will be sold to Missoula County Public Schools, says agriculture Teacher Cindy Arnott.
While they are just starting with Big Sky High School, the FFA teachers hope to provide hamburger for the entire district in a few years.
And with only one more state inspection to go, Andres says he’s excited to give students the opportunity to make something they can take home and be proud of.
"It’s nice to have this building get finished and things like that but actually making a food protect and having it ready to eat then eating it I think has been the best part,” Andres said.