ASHEVILLE, NC — Hickory Nut Gap is excited to announce their partnership with the North Carolina Farm to School Program, a state-wide, voluntary program established in 1997 to provide NC schools with local, NC grown products. Hickory Nut Gap teamed up with the Farm to School Program amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020, as one of the first two suppliers of local grassfed and pasture raised meats. In just four short months during this difficult time, Hickory Nut Gap has been able to serve their 100% grassfed beef 80/20 blend in fan-favorite dishes like Salisbury steak and tacos to school districts across nine counties in North Carolina including Hyde, Pamlico, Perquimans, Randolph, Sampson, Avery, Buncombe, Clay, and Watauga.
As schools begin to re-open, Hickory Nut Gap will be showcased at the first annual Farm to School Week (April 19 – 23, 2021), a week where four counties in NC (Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Carteret) are serving almost exclusively local, NC products all week long in efforts to better educate their students about the benefits of eating local.
This partnership was a match made in heaven, as both organizations have a passion for educating children about the origins of their food and also strive to provide the most nutritious, locally-sourced food to their communities.
Heather Barnes, Marketing Specialist at the NCDA&CS, states, “The North Carolina Farm to School Program has been an option for school nutrition programs to source local foods for more than twenty years. We are excited about the opportunities that adding meat products brings to the program and how having a local connection benefits both the students and farmers in our state.”
The importance of higher quality school meals is real. In a New York Times article entitled, “Feeding Young Minds: The Importance of School Lunches,” by Jane E. Brody, “Students at schools that contract with a healthy school lunch vendor score higher” on statewide achievement tests, Michael L. Anderson of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues reported in April 2017. They showed a 4-percentile improvement in test scores above those achieved in schools with less healthy meals.
Hickory Nut Gap is committed to its partnership with the NC Farm to School Program. They are not only looking forward to serving more delicious and nutritious meat to children across NC, but also to educate young minds about the importance of topics like regenerative agriculture. Jamie Ager, Fourth Generation farmer at Hickory Nut Gap said, “As parents of children in the public school system, and as advocates for healthy rural communities, Hickory Nut Gap is excited to collaborate with NCDA&CS to bring local food to the children in our schools.”
About Hickory Nut Gap:
Hickory Nut Gap Meats is a leading producer of pasture-raised meats based out of a 100year-old family farm in Western North Carolina. Hickory Nut Gap values and respects the complex relationships between humans and nature. By using regenerative agriculture and ethical animal welfare practices, Hickory Nut Gap produces extraordinary meats that are unsurpassed in flavor and healthiness – while making a net-positive impact on climate change and overall ecosystem health.
About NC Farm To School:
The North Carolina Farm to School Program was founded in 1997 to give public school nutrition programs an option to buy fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the state. The program, run by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is the only one of its kind in the nation. The program is offered 22 weeks during the school year and features a variety of fresh and value-added produce products and, since 2020, ground beef.