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Minneapolis, St. Paul schools launch program to highlight local food

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Students in the Twin Cities will be eating more locally grown foods this year.

St. Paul and Minneapolis public schools will feature seasonal Minnesota-grown ingredients on the districts' menus the first Thursday of each month through a partnership called Minnesota Thursdays, according to a news release.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools try to uses local food sources when possible, but officials hope Minnesota Thursdays will not only support Minnesota farmers, ranchers and companies, but also provide healthy food options while students learn about nutrition and local agriculture.

“Minnesota Thursdays give us a chance to showcase our state’s local food for an entire meal on a monthly basis,” Bertrand Weber, director of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, said in a news release. “We don’t need to source potatoes 10,000 miles away when we can purchase them from a farmer in our Minnesota community. By serving local true food – wholesome, unprocessed, ‘real’ food – at school, we can model for students how a menu can support the local economy and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Minnesota Thursdays starts Sept. 4, with food coming from within 75 miles of the Twin Cities. The menu includes:

  • Grass-fed beef hot dogs from Thousand Hills Cattle Company in Cannon Falls.
  • Hot dog buns from Pan-O-Gold Bakery in St. Cloud.
  • Cucumbers from Gardens of Eagan in Northfield.
  • Corn on the cob from Pahl Farms in Apple Valley.
  • Watermelon from Riverside Farms in Elk River.

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Minnesota Thursdays stems from the Farm to School program in both districts, a University of Minnesota extension that aims to serve food from nearby farms in school meals while teaching students about locally grown ingredients and supporting the local economy.

The U of M says schools that use the Farm to School program reported a 3 to 16 percent increase in school meal participation. 

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