ST. CHARLES, Mo. — The gorgeous new dining hall at Lindenwood University serves pizzas hot from a wood-fired oven, turkey breast carved to order by a chef, platters of fresh-baked cookies and pie.
But it’s the pork chops dished out at the steaming Comfort Food Station that keep junior Benton Haines in school. It’s not that he particularly likes them — he’s picky about his meals — but the pork chops are paying his tuition.
In a program that holds out thought for food, Lindenwood University now takes payment in pigs.
As the stumbling economy drags down the small farm towns surrounding the college — towns that for decades proudly sent their top students to Lindenwood — President Dennis Spellmann has reached out with an offer to barter. He’ll trade a liberal arts education at his small private college — retail value, $11,200 a year — for any commodity the dining hall can use.
Six families so far have swapped their swine for scholarship, trading hogs that are worth little on the open market for classes in business or education on Lindenwood’s tree-lined suburban campus. In the bargain, they’ve filled the cafeteria’s freezers with fresh-off-the-farm sausage, bacon — even whole pigs, which are smoked on an outdoor barbecue spit before home football games.