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Falcon Foods offers campus-made selections, remains unknown

October 24, 2013

After 30 years of producing food for UW-River Falls, a lot of students on campus are still not familiar with who makes the cheese, meat and ice cream that they enjoy on campus every day.

Falcon Foods plants have been in operation since 1983, according to the Falcon Foods website.

There are two different pilot plants on campus: dairy and meat. Both plants are located in the Ag Science building. There is a full-time plant manager that helps students produce the different types of food. Many of these products are for sale in the Falcon Foods Store, as well as Freddy’s C-Store inside the University Center.

According to the Falcon Foods Store website, “The primary goal of the plant is to provide valuable learning experiences for students to take with them and put to use in their future careers.”

Dairy Pilot Plant Manager Michelle Farner oversees the dairy plant operation, production, sales, marketing, as well as Falcon Foods.

“On average, about 15 students per semester work for the dairy plant.  Most of them are work study students,” Farner said.

Students are involved in all aspects of the plant including production, sanitation and quality control.

Vanessa Freeman, a student at UWRF, is familiar with the plants and is in the Dairy Manufacturing class that teaches students how to make pasteurized and raw milk cheese.

“Cheese-making is a day long process so we do not get to do all the steps every day. The dairy plant employees start and finish up the cheese process,” Freeman said. “We learn how to make cheese from start to finish in the class. We also learn how pasteurization works, the processes and procedures of cheese making, laws related to cheese making, and proper sanitation processes. We also learn what to do if particular things happen and potential ways to fix it.”

With the holidays right around the corner, Farner wants students to know about the pilot plants on campus and what they have to offer.  The dairy plant has 10 different gift boxes plus a custom option created this year that consists of summer sausage and different types of cheese.  This is the first year that the Dairy Pilot Plant is offering the cheese box online. These boxes are in high demand over the holidays, but are available throughout the year.

Mark Hoekstra, a senior, passes by the pilot plants on campus nearly every day. He said that not many people know that Falcon Foods exist.

Farner is determined to change this by making students aware of who they are and what they do.

“I want people to know that we exist. I think we are so far removed from the middle of campus that sometimes people forget about us. Even at the River Falls Farmers Market at least one person will say they didn’t know there was a dairy plant on campus,” Farner said. “We just want people to know that we do exist and that we create awesome products and we want people to remember us.”