Thousands to dine on Pride of Dakota school lunches

BISMARCK – More than 31,000 students from 132 North Dakota schools will lunch on food products from their own state on Tuesday, October 2 during the 11th annual Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day.

“Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day provides young people with healthy meals while supporting local farmers and businesses,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple in his proclamation of the event. “The event helps students learn how to make better choices about the foods they eat, and it creates a greater awareness of North Dakota agriculture.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said a wide range of North Dakota food products are now available for school lunch programs in addition to the high quality raw commodities produced in the state.

“Highlighting the North Dakota food products grown by our farmers and ranchers and that are processed by local businesses helps educate students on how their food is raised and produced,” Goehring said. “In addition, school lunch programs can help their local economies and the state's economy by buying more from North Dakota producers and food companies that can meet both the nutritional standards and budget goals of all school lunch programs.”

Goehring will lunch with students at St. Mary's Elementary School in Bismarck on Tuesday.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) has provided posters and other promotional materials to participating schools, as well as sample menus prepared by the Department of Public Instruction. NDDA is also encouraging Pride of Dakota companies to promote their North Dakota products when dealing with school lunch programs.

Goehring noted the event now coincides with the third annual National Farm to School Month.

“Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day was formerly scheduled in March during Pride of Dakota Month,” he said. “National Farm to School Month celebrates the connections that are happening all over the country between schools and local food sources.”

The Pride of Dakota program fosters the development and growth of small businesses and especially businesses that are rural, 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 take part in educational opportunities. More than 500 companies are Pride of Dakota members. Authorized by the Legislature, the program is administered by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.