School Lunches Feature North Dakota Products, Locally Grown Foods

BISMARCK – Hundreds of school lunchrooms around the state featured North Dakota wheat, beef, durum, beans, sunflowers, pork and other commodities on their menus Tuesday, the 10th annual Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day.

“An estimated 45,000 young people are eating North Dakota products for lunch today,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehing, who shared the meal with students at Sunrise Elementary School in Bismarck. “This is going on all across the state – almost 90 school districts are participating.”

Goehring said Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day has three target audiences.

“Most of all, we want young people to understand where their food comes from and how to make good food choices,” he said. “We also want to show school administrators and school lunch directors that North Dakota companies and farmers can supply many of their menu needs. Finally, we want North Dakota companies to see school lunch programs can be an important market for their products.”

Goehring said the annual event has been moved from March to October to allow schools to make freshly harvested local produce part of their menus.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture supplied participating schools with sample menus and materials and ideas for classroom activities, such as bread making in a bag, a food pyramid quiz and a geography exercise. The sample menus were developed by Deb Egeland, a child nutrition specialist with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

The classroom activities and a sample menu can be found on the Pride of Dakota website at www.prideofdakota.nd.gov/Programs/podschoollunchday.htm.

Authorized by the Legislature and administered by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the Pride of Dakota program fosters the development and growth of small businesses and especially businesses that are farm-based or rely on agricultural commodities. Pride of Dakota member companies can participate in cooperative promotion and marketing events; receive representation at local, state, regional, national, and international trade shows and educational opportunities. More than 500 companies are Pride of Dakota members.