Two-thousand hamburgers are consumed every week in Kalispell schools, and as of this month, they all have a distinct Montana flavor.
"People are starting to realize that gas has gone up so driving fruit, vegetables, and meat around the country isn't financially viable," said Food Service Director Jenny Montague, "We're having to move back to that smaller system and it's a really good thing."
The school district says the healthier beef patties come from Lower Valley Meat Processing, who receives cattle from ranches in Kalispell and Polson. Dirk Lybeck, a third-generation rancher, says he's on board with the initiative.
"It was exciting when we learned about the adventure of providing beef for the local schools," said Lybeck. "Being involved in it as a local business and knowing where your product is going, as a family we were thrilled about it."
The program provides a farm-to-table concept that financially benefits the school district and local cattle ranchers.
"Every year it's going to put $35,000 into the local economy and it's going to save the school district $750 a year," explained AmeriCorps VISTA member Katie Wheeler, who helped to implement the program into the schools.
"That's one of the ways that we feel we can create a healthier community," said Montague, "By creating that connection between growers and producers and kids."
This is something the Lybeck's appreciate - "As a business and our family we try to support the local economy and it's a really good feeling knowing that that is where our product is going," concluded Lybeck.
The school district has tackled the beef and say their next target is the buns. Jenny and Katie tell NBC Montana they're looking to utilize Montana's wheat farms to keep kids eating local in the lunch line.