Jeff Tech receives money for its Farm to Refrigerator program

A dream is becoming a reality at Jeff Tech as money has been awarded to start the Farm to Refrigerator program.

Megan Bundy

At the March 28 Jeff Tech Operating Committee meeting, Adult Services Coordinator Megan Bundy announced that the school has been awarded over a million dollars to start the Farm to Refrigerator program to train student and adult learners the skills necessary for meat processing.

Bundy said that during the early stages of the Covid outbreak, there appeared to be a shortage of beef products in our area. It was not a shortage of supply, she said, but a shortage of skilled workers who could process the beef. She cited a Penn State study that showed $33-million dollars worth of beef is purchased annually within a 50 mile radius of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

A committee of area stakeholders, which included beef suppliers, family owned and operated meat markets, farmers, the Jefferson County Commissioners, and others, approached state and federal officials to help get the program off the ground.

Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson visited Jeff Tech on March 29, 2021. At that meeting, Bundy and School Director Dr. Barry Fillman presented their vision of a meat cutter training program to the congressman, who offered his support.

In April of 2021, the stakeholder committee submitted its grant application, which received the support of Congressman Thompson.

“Just last week, we received notification from Congressman Glenn Thompson’s office that Jeff Tech was awarded $1.125-million dollars for the construction of a facility to house a farm to refrigerator training project at Jeff Tech,” Bundy told the committee. She added that there’s still a lot of work to be done, but “we’re very excited and anxious to see this project go from a vision to reality.”

The money will become available to Jeff Tech within the next 30 days.

Committee Chairman Dr. Fred Park thanked all those who were involved in getting the grant.

“There’s so much more to be done, but I’m sure we’ll be able to accomplish that with the help of everybody,” he said and added, “it’s something the four [sending] school districts can be very proud of.”

Dr. Fillman said it was his hope the program would help revitalize family farms in this area.

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