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Montana Team Nutrition creates 6 new meals for schools across the state

The meals debut in the fall and will feature local ingredients
Posted at 9:29 AM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 12:17:43-04

BOZEMAN - Montana Team Nutrition has worked alongside MSU to create some tasty new recipes that will come to schools across the state.

“We developed six recipes over a two-year period and it was all funded through a USDA Team Nutrition grant,” said Molly Stenberg of Team Nutrition.

The recipes are made with fresh local ingredients such as barley, bison, beets, cherries, and lentils. The meals are cooked with such ingredients to emphasize the importance of eating locally.

The recipes were chosen from a statewide contest and were submitted by school service directors or family consumer science teachers. Several schools even got to test out the meals.

“Six schools tested the recipes for us, so they taste tested the recipes with students and to make a cut," said Stenberg. "They had to reach 85% student approval rating, which is pretty high. So we know that 85% of students liked the recipes.”

The USDA wants to make sure kids are eating healthy in school. Nutrition was a very important factor in creating these recipes.

The Commercial Chef in charge of making the recipes large enough to serve in schools, Leah Smutko, described the recipes' nutrition quality and quantity within schools.

“USDA is pretty strict about how nutrition quality or nutrition quantities are in the rest of us, so they want to know that when you're feeding kids and students what the nutritional value of it is down to the protein level or the oils," Smutko said. "I really got to work with Molly a bit and say, hey, the amount of oil you have in this is just going to burn. You really need more so let's go back through and kind of reevaluate nutrition.”

Stenberg is hopeful for these recipes to make their debut in schools this fall.

“October is Farm to School month so that would be a perfect month first for schools to prepare some of these recipes," says Stenberg.

Team Nutrition believes it is important for kids to know where their food is coming from and realize the importance of agriculture in the state of Montana.

“I think overall schools in Montana welcoming in local ingredients is a success in itself,” says Smutko.