Sheridan County School District 1 replaced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s lunch program with one based on locally grown vegetables and meat.

“It looks a lot better, smells better and I just think it’s a really good change, “said student Eryn Aksamit.

School officials were concerned that students were hungry by mid-afternoon after eating the federally mandated meals of only 750-850 calories.

“I had to bring snacks from home just to fill my belly up,” said student Casey Caywood.

The school now buys vegetables from a local farm to keep the menu fresh. In November, the district plans to add locally raised beef to the program.

School district Business Manager Jeremy Smith says locally grown food may cost more, but it’s worth having the children eat well.

“It’s really exciting for us to be able to offer that for our kids and for our patrons. They just really expect great things and these are our kids, we want to do the best we can for them, “said Smith.

The school district may extend the lunch program to other schools in the area.