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The USDA announced that the Montana Office of Public Instruction has been awarded a new $199,800 school nutrition grant to support the National School Lunch Program. The OPI along with the Montana Team Nutrition Program at Montana State University will develop and evaluate recipes for school meal programs using ingredients from foods produced in Montana including barley, beets, bison, chokecherries, sweet cherries, lentils and winter squash.

“Agriculture is Montana’s number one industry. This grant will help strengthen the partnerships between our schools and local farmers and ranchers,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said Monday. “Montana students should have access to local, nutritious Montana-made food while supporting their local producers.”

Students and school staff will be actively engaged in recipe development and testing through a statewide Harvesting Montana Recipes Contest. Student and community engagement will be ensured through a sub-grant program awarding six school districts funds to support student taste testing, nutrition education, and meal service. To ensure a collaborative approach is followed, school nutrition staff, educators, parents, students, farmers, and community members will participate in the process.

Additionally, the USDA announced this month that they are extending the Summer Food Service Program flexibilities through June 30, 2021. This allows Montana schools to continue non-congregate meals, grab and go meals, no-cost meals, and other flexible meal services through the current school year.

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