James Whelan Butchers: Launch of Food Connect Programme

Tipperary Schools and Food Producers combine to launch Food Connect Programme

Transition Year StudentsTipperary Food Producers, the country based group of artisan producers are combining forces with 12 schools throughout the county to run an innovative Food Connect Programme.  This programme is the first of its type in Ireland and has a core objective of linking students within the schools and local food producers.

Each school has been matched with a producer in their area and four students from each transition class in these schools,  will spend up to a month working with the food producer with the objective of learning about the business and local food production.  Meanwhile, fellow students in the whole transition class for that school  will run a real commercial project on behalf of that producer e.g. one school may conduct market research on behalf of that producer and present their findings back to an expert panel at the end of the programme.

What is radical about the programme is that it will harness online tools such as websites, social networking sites and twitter to enable the students to communicate progress on their projects to each other and transition years in other schools. The students in the work placement will keep an online diary and will post photographs of their experiences for others to view.

As part of the launch of the programme each school will participate in a road show visit from a number of the food producers who will provide the students with an overview of the 30 food producers in the local network and where students will also be given an insight into artisan production on the importance to the local economy of supporting Tipperary produced food.

Commenting on the programme Mr Pat Whelan, Chairman of the Tipperary Food Producer said “We strongly believe that our future success will be driven by the students of today.  This is not a conventional work place programme as significant research has been done to ensure that the programme content is relevant and that the students enjoy participating. For the producers also there is a real incentive to participate on this programme as the projects undertaken by the students will have real commercial benefit to their business. Our 30 Tipperary based food producers are generating a turnover in the local economy of over €20 million annually and they employ over 150 staff.  This programme aims to foster greater awareness among the students and the local community about the local food”.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

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