Wish Granted

Michigan grant to get potatoes into school

Published in the January 2016 Issue Published online: Jan 13, 2016 Adam Novello Business & Program Manager
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The Michigan Potato Industry Commission (MPIC) is excited to report on receiving its most recent grant, titled “Bettering the School Nutrition Platform for Students in Michigan through Increasing Accessibility to Potatoes.” Armed with more than just a catchy title, MPIC is committed to partnering with the U.S. Potato Board (USPB) and schools throughout Michigan to ensure healthy meals for all students. The grant stands to bring 62 more salad bars to the state on top of the 150 that Michigan has already pledged. This great combination sets Michigan up as the largest receiver of salad bars in the country under the USPB’s Salad Bar Challenge campaign.

The grant detailed the monitoring of potato usage and how the bars will be used. The goal of this program isn’t to just throw equipment at a problem, but to foster real change for the betterment of Michigan students. A pipeline of recipes will also be established with the schools so that new and fresh ideas make it to the trays. These recipes will come from USPB and meet all the nutritional standards that schools want and need.

Beyond the physical salad bars, this program connects the MPIC and USPB to school nutrition professionals. The MPIC recently attended the School Nutritional Association of Michigan annual conference to forge new connections in the state’s school system. The show was a fantastic success, with many school nutritionists elated about the potato-friendly salad bars. These relationships are critical to showing the potential that potatoes have. A recent study out of Texas A&M University showed that when potatoes are on a student’s tray, they eat more of the other vegetables. Potatoes serve as a springboard to healthier eating habits and less food waste.

This program reshapes students’ impressions of what potatoes can be and how they can be prepared. It is a golden intersection where a new generation of consumers can be educated, schools can receive much-needed equipment and support, creative and healthy meals are being consumed, and everyone can enjoy a delicious Michigan potato.

Grants like this one ensure a bright future for the industry throughout Michigan. The MPIC is honored to have received this opportunity and intends to utilize every resource available to educate students and parents on the benefits of a healthy diet with locally grown potatoes.