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School district work to include more ‘Montana’ in student meals



Helena, Montana – The bison is where? Helena Public Schools (HPS) will put more locally grown produce and livestock on children’s plates as a result of a $29,000 award.

“We’ve got choices from beef stroganoff to tacos to whole meatballs for kids to be able to have a marinara with some stuff in there,” HPS Food Service Director Robert Worthy said. “Chilies, stews, including not just the bison, but we are going to put Montana potatoes, onions, lentils in with our stew or with our soup. ”

At the moment, every milk carton used in schools comes from Montana; the fruits and vegetables also come from Montana, depending on the season.

According to Worthy, the grant funds from the Office of Public Instruction and the US Department of Agriculture must be used by May. They will be able to support regional farmers and serve fresher food as a result.

“It’s so important for students to get to know where their food is coming from and, to be connected with their communities, and to just know that my food isn’t coming from somewhere obscure. How powerful that it’s coming from Montana and that we can learn about the farmers or learn more about the animal we are eating,” said Warren Elementary School Principal and HPS Wellness Committee Member Letitia Wilkins.

Worthy is putting the finishing touches on an application for a $100,000 grant that would allow kids to visit farms and learn about the source of their food, as well as purchase a hydroponic station to enable them to grow their own vegetables.

Through their Free Summer Meals Program, he was able to feed over 2,000 children this summer. He achieved the maximum amount of meals in Montana, 63,178.

Western Montana Growers Cooperative and HPS Food Services collaborate closely to guarantee the safety of the food provided to students.

“They have their own protocols. They work their co-op and get multiple smaller farmers together to help [give] access so I can reach these farmers,” Worthy said. “It has to be through a process where I can pay the bill, guarantee they have insurance, guarantee they have what I need, and then look at the availability, as well as making sure that the food is safe.”

At the cost of a $5 adult lunch, parents are welcome to sample the new menu choices.

To assist in creating their menu that is manufactured in Montana, HPS Food Services is conducting a survey.

There are ten possibilities total; they will be reduced to five so that pupils can choose from them in classrooms.

Meals will begin to be distributed in February, and the survey will close on December 25, 2023.




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