Imagine your child sitting down to a school lunch that included Bison Barley Soup and Cherry Berry Sunrise all featuring foods raised here in Montana.

On Tuesday, we spoke to Molly Stenberg, Co-Director of Montana Team Nutrition on Tuesday about the newest additions to Montana’s school meals program.

She described some of the Made-in-Montana menu items.

“Students will have the option to try foods like Montana cherry recipes, including Cherry Berry Sunrise, Sweet Cherry, and Chocolate Overnight Oats recipe,” began Stenberg. “We have two Montana bison recipes in a Bison and Barley Soup or a Bison and Lentil Chili and we have Montana grown lentils featured in a luscious Lentil Hummus recipe. Students can also be introduced to really tasty oven-roasted beets and Montana-grown sweet potatoes.”

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Stenberg said all the recipes originated in Montana.

“We hosted a recipe contest two years ago, in which we asked school food service directors and family consumer science teachers to send in recipes that their students liked, and each recipe had to feature at least one Montana-grown food,” she said. “So, all the recipes originated from Montana schools.”

Stenberg explained how the individual recipes have been converted to feed hundreds of hungry school children.

“They took these recipes and bumped them up into really high quantities, from 50 to 100 servings and then they tested those to make sure that the quality, the taste, and the eye appeal were good at those higher quantity ranges,” she said. “They also used ingredients that are easy for schools to purchase. So we use number 10 cans which are huge cans of diced tomatoes or we order lentils dry directly from the producers, and we order bison and raw pounds in large quantities.”

Stenberg said most students will have to pay for their school lunches.

“Based upon USDA regulations, most schools are going back to having to charge for meals,” she said. Schools are going back to collecting applications from families and based on their income, they could qualify for free or reduced price meals, but if they don't meet those income guidelines, then they would be a full pay."

Stenberg said many schools have Angel programs in which generous members of the community chip in to pay the balances of school lunches each year.

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