NIXA, Mo.– During his nearly ten years of owning Jimm’s Steakhouse in Springfield Jimm Swafford, says he’s noticed one food item has been consistently praised. It won’t be found on any grill. You won’t even see it on the menu. Instead, you’d find it at the salad bar.
“People say they don’t like pickles but these are the only pickles they eat,” Swafford says.
Though they don’t even qualify as a full side item, these cold and crunchy cousins of the cucumber often go quickly.
“We ran out of them one time and we thought, oh it won’t be that big of a deal. Well it was a big deal,” says Swafford.
And when they’re gone, they leave behind empty buckets.
For years, Swafford says he simply threw those buckets away, until there came an opportunity for good use.
Zac Rantz is the Safety Coordinator for Nixa Public Schools.
“We’ve been surprised at how many buckets we get,” Rantz said. “They must have really popular pickles up at Jimm’s Steakhouse.”
He says today the buckets serve as what’s called a “lockdown kit” filled with items they might require in a crisis situation.
“[Jimm’s Steakhouse] offered them up and we accepted and 400 buckets later we are equipping our classrooms with a vital tool,” he says. “These could be used in an active shooter situation, a power outage, a contagion if we need to quarantine a classroom. We’ve tried to design them to where they can be used for anything.”
And while occasionally the buckets come bearing a reminder of their sour backstory, Nixa knows the gesture couldn’t be sweeter.
“They do sometimes have that pickle smell,” Rantz laughs. “We don’t care what they were used for. It’s what the intended purpose for the future is going to be.”