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Small Alder school gets help from small Butte supplier

Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-09 14:56:25-04

BUTTE - I’m here at Alder Elementary and it’s really small, and it’s one of few in the state that has a hot lunch program. That's due to a marriage between a small school and a small business.

Five years ago, Renata Nichols was in a bind after a large supplier would no longer deliver milk to the school because her order was too small. Fortunately, Butte Produce came to the rescue.

“That was huge, because otherwise I about had to go buy a milk cow and get my milk, because here in duck-butt nowhere, how do you get all your stuff,” said Nichols.

This shows the importance small businesses have for people and schools that are located, as Renata said, in duck-butt nowhere.

“He is now my one and only supplier, I don’t even have another one, but thank God, he is so amazing,” she said.

Butte Produce has been a family-owned business for decades and makes a point to serve small, independently-owned businesses in rural Montana.

“We’re really lucky to have customers like her throughout the state that … they need a little love in these times,” said Bill DeWolf, CEO of Butte Produce.

Renata moved to Montana from Switzerland years ago and loves to make good food for the kids.

“I kind of beg our ranchers around for meat and I get free meat. I pick apples whenever the apples are ripe on the tree and I say, ‘Can I get some apples,'” said Nichols.

Butte Produce knows the importance of helping rural communities.

“Those kids, sometimes it’s the only meal they get, and if we can support that, all the better,” said DeWolf.

The school’s head teacher also appreciates Renata’s efforts in keeping their students fed.

“It’s been so nice because this is an area I don’t have to worry about, I can worry about teaching the kids and getting other things and not having to worry about the kitchen area because Renata’s got it,” said Teresa Murdoch, who then gave Nichols a high five and a smile.