Education

Homemade and homegrown food can be found at BEA

BEA student Toby “Cha Cha” Chencharick serves locally grown and student-made food samples during the Fresh is Better Showcase on Friday at the high school. The event was a way to promote locally grown food, while also collecting donations for local food banks.
BEA student Toby “Cha Cha” Chencharick serves locally grown and student-made food samples during the Fresh is Better Showcase on Friday at the high school. The event was a way to promote locally grown food, while also collecting donations for local food banks.

Bald Eagle Area High School agriculture teacher Todd Biddle tries to make class curriculum reflect the real world as much as possible.

That’s why he sets up class in a way that allows students to be interactive.

He calls it, “educational, but fun.”

Last week, students completed the final step in a multistep process that stemmed from a grant the district received last year.

A $5,000 National Farm to School Network grant was awarded to BEA — and more specifically Biddle’s ag classes and FFA — which helped fund a small farm on BEA-owned property near the high school, and helped create a state-inspected chicken processing facility in Biddle’s classroom.

Three-step ag project at BEA: 1) Receive grant; 2) put money toward growing food on farm and creating state-OK’d chicken processing facility; 3) use student grown and raised produce and chicken in homemade soup to sell to help benefit future ag programs

Chicken and produce raised and grown by the students was used to make chicken corn soup, which was sold last week during the “Fresh is Better Showcase,” and at the homecoming football game.

Teacher Jennifer Todd and students in her family and consumer science class made more than 300 quarts of soup with ingredients produced by some of Biddle’s students.

FCS students first developed four different soup recipes, and then staff picked one to make for the soup sale.

More than $1,200 raised in soup sales

More than $1,200 was raised through soup sales, which will go back into BEA ag programs, Biddle said.

But among all the hands-on ag projects, the Fresh is Better Showcase was the highlight of school Friday.

Spearheaded by Biddle, students in his intro to ag class prepared locally grown food and allowed staff to sample their creations.

Because they couldn’t sell their goods, students allowed an exchange of food samples for a canned good that would be donated to local food banks as part of the school’s mission to “knock out hunger,” Biddle said.

“This unit is not just about teaching about safe production, but the whole concept that even though we produce enough food to feed everyone in the world, there are still people who are hungry,” Biddle said.

Biddle said each Intro to Ag class made their own food that included canned pear and pear jam, pickled sweet peppers, and apple sauce with apples grown by a local farmer.

We used all local ingredients. That was one of the goals for this project.

Todd Biddle, BEA ag teacher

“We used all local ingredients,” Biddle said. “That was one of the goals for this project.”

The other mission of the project was to teach kids about the production of local and fresh home-preserved food.

“We know that a lot of foods we eat have chemicals and preservatives, and we have research that correlates some disease with nutrition,” Biddle said. “We designated the project to make kids more cognizant and make them aware of where the ingredients come from in the meet-your-farmer concept. It’s very different than going into a grocery when you can have personal dialogue, instead, with people who produce (the food).”

The unit also touched on labeling, marketing and sales of food; government regulations; safe handling; and the cost of production.

“We have this conversation about where food comes from,” Biddle said. “When you ask someone what they think of when they think of agriculture, they automatically go to a red bard with a corn field and tractor, but it’s so much more than just the red barn.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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