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Byron High School gets grant for food truck

January 14, 2019

BYRON — Several years ago, Byron High School family and consumer science (FACS) teacher Ryan Radke was eating at a food truck and thought, “This would be such a cool hands-on learning experience. It would be great for students interested in the culinary arts but also anyone wanting to start their own business.”

Radke discussed the idea with business teacher Josh Benards, and the two started seeking funding. With help from district employees Jen Hegna, Jessica Denter, Cally Salley and Steve Willman, a grant request was submitted and the Bush Foundation awarded the school $45,000.

Early on, Radke learned that an actual food truck would be too expensive to purchase.

“It will probably be more of a food trailer that we take places with a truck, as you get more bang for your buck on those,” he said.

Radke said that while the school’s business and FACS departments will oversee the food truck business, staff members in other departments are supportive of the idea. Fresh vegetables and herbs grown in the agricultural department’s greenhouse could be used in preparing food, and the industrial technology department will help maintain the equipment. Art department students and staff will help decorate the trailer. Specific software will be needed to keep track of money collected, inventory, and other records so staff and students in the Information Technology department will be closely involved.

Byron business owners and residents have also rallied behind the idea.

“Several community members have offered to donate time and money to help with this opportunity,” Radke said.

Where will the trailer be parked while it’s serving food?

Radke said that decision will be part of the learning experience.

“We want the students to network, possibly advertise, and then spread the word through social media of where the trailer will be parked on given days. We also want to partner with local restaurants to work together on this.”

What’s on the menu?

“The students will help develop the menu, but we’d really like to use food from the greenhouse and meat from local farmers,” he said.

Radke would like to see classes surrounding the food trailer begin in the spring of 2020.

Ideally, the trailer will be self-sustaining and will help students learn the ins and outs of starting up their own businesses.

Superintendent Joey Page has high hopes for the project.

“Creating startup businesses not only provides students with real-world “resume-ready” learning experience but could, long-term, lead to an increase in growth and economic development in rural communities. Students will be equipped with the design thinking methodologies and foundational knowledge of running their own business, and we desire to foster and grow our nation’s next generation of entrepreneurs.”

School board chairwoman Sharon Kreitinger agreed.

“What a phenomenal opportunity we have here. I am very excited to see this idea come to life as we watch our district, staff, students and community work together to make it a reality.”

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