GREAT FALLS — Some early learners in Great Falls are getting a lesson in where their food comes from - and they are also getting a head start on Halloween decorating.
A yearly tradition by Torgerson’s continued at Loy Elementary School on Monday. The company passed out pumpkins to first-graders.
For 18 years, the company has tried to make sure kids in their service area can have a jack-o-lantern to carve, but more importantly getting kids to think about and ask where their food comes from.
Before the pumpkins were distributed, Torgerson’s employee Shane McGuire quizzed the children on pumpkins. McGuire, the Great Falls branch manager, asked kids to raise their hands if they thought a pumpkin is a vegetable or a fruit. The answer is fruit.
He also told kids that on average, the pumpkins handed out each had about 500 seeds inside. And he told the kids about how used pumpkins can be valuable as compost material.
“It's really important to the company. It's really important as an ag supplier that this is a question that the kids start asking at a young age,” said McGuire. “So that it's not just go to the store and buy what's on the shelf. That’s why we do it.”
While most kids are thinking about how they will decorate, the nutrition message is getting through.
McGuire says a bonus of the pumpkin giveaway is that they are locally sourced.
“These pumpkins this year came from Big Stone Colony, just south of town here,” said McGuire. “Colony businesses is an important part of who Torgerson’s is and a big producer of the food in this area. So we want to make sure that we give back to our customers as well.”
McGuire estimates the company will give out close to 2,000 pumpkins. He says the pumpkin distribution is getting bigger every year with more people moving to the area.
“We do it for all Great Falls schools and including the surrounding area schools where our customers’ children are going to school,” said McGuire. “So, we'll be in Fort Benton, we’ll be in Fairfield, we’ll be in Choteau, Augusta Belt, Centerville, we try to get them all.”