Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated … there are so many choices today when it comes to meal kit delivery services. For one Oklahoma community finding a farm to fork meal kit has become much easier thanks to Vinita FFA’s Gold Table Meals.
“The idea came up from brainstorming on how to be cutting-edge, incorporate technology, plus another way to get our cleanly grown produce to our community,” said Carolyn Piguet, Vinita’s agricultural science teacher and FFA advisor. “This also provided an avenue for our beef, pork, and poultry kids to make some sales. This was another way to extend our food goal.”
Vinita FFA’s overall goal is for members to understand food, from how to grow it and feed themselves to nourish others. And it’s a goal Piguet’s members have been diligently working towards since she began leading the chapter the fall of 2010. In addition to the meal kit delivery service, Vinita FFA’s 80 member-team caters prestigious events across the state, hosts a farmer’s market, and runs an online retail store.
With 70 percent of Vinita FFA’s members not hailing from a farm, the farm to fork model been a non-traditional approach that has worked well for the chapter. And the students have really stepped up to make it a success.
With the support of community members, Gary McGee, and the Cherokee Nation, Vinita FFA has over an acre of garden space as well as two 20 foot raised beds in which to grow their organic produce. Fertilization of crops is done by the use of composted soils and renewed nutrition through the introduction of biomass produced with the vegetables.
For the Gold Table Meals subscription service, the produce is picked from the garden by the students. The students must also arrange with the processor the correct meat cuts for each meal plan. During a flight, the students meet every Monday at 8:30 a.m. to measure, distribute, and pack meals before heading off to deliver them within a 10-mile radius from the school that afternoon.
Currently in their summer flight, Vinita FFA is delivering 150 meals per week.
“The chapter has made approximately $2 per meal per week and some students providing meats have acquired approximately $2,000 per month,” Piguet said.
While the money raised is being used to support chapter activities, the Gold Table Meals program has also offered the community an affordable and convenient meal kit option that also gives Vinita residents an opportunity to give back to a local agricultural youth organization.
Originally Vinita FFA had planned to end the meal kit delivery program in the fall as the garden harvest comes to a close, but instead the chapter has developed a schedule for the rest for the year with some appropriate seasonal themes and of course, some much needed breaks:
- October/November: Fall Flight — Crockpot Meals
- December/January: Break
- February/March: Winter Flight — Soup and Sandwiches
- April/May: Break
- June/July: Summer Flight — Garden Fresh Meals
For other FFA chapters considering a meal kit delivery service, Piguet says a garden and members that raise beef, pork, and poultry is a necessity. Extra attention to media and marketing also helps get the word out and the program off to a good start.
Piguet said while it’s a lot of work, it’s well worth the effort.
“It is a lot of work and planning but so rewarding,” Piguet said. “The kids have become such leaders through the process.”