By C. COLT CRANE
PAUL • Minidoka County schools have started a new food and health program in an effort to promote healthier food choices while supporting Idaho’s economy.
Phyllis Bean, food director for the Minidoka County School District, has been hard at work setting up the program since last spring.
“We’re in a pilot program,” Bean said. “There are eight districts within the state that are in this program and we are putting Idaho products on our menu to try and promote Idaho and keep things locally.“
The program kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 5, at West Minico Middle School in Paul. Everything on the day’s menu was an Idaho product. Thursday’s menu was comprised of finger steaks, corn on the cob, fingerling potatoes, nectarines and milk.
Local potatoes came from Arrowhead Potatoes in Rupert and Bean said all items will come from Idaho. Bean also said the district is trying to stay as local as it can when buying food.
Bean clarified that the new food program requires no new funding and that everything is bought through an operating expense, as well as federal reimbursement through the Free and Reduced Lunch program.
All menu items are required to meet federal nutrient standards.
“I’m excited for the kids to see that we’re putting out good quality food and maybe they’ll eat,” Bean said. “When the new food guidelines came out from the federal government, nobody was happy with it because we were feeding them more fruits and veggies. Kids here do not get filled up on fruits and veggies. They work hard and they need more.“
According to Bean, the kickoff program went extremely well. The district office received complimentary emails concerning the new program, as well as positive feedback from the students.
“I’ve had emails saying that they thought it was good,” Bean said. “The kids were saying that it was the best meal they’d ever had.“