The Rice Stuff Goes to School…Lunch

Number 34 superimposed over photo of combine and grain cart in mature rice field
School foodservice is a major area of focus for USA Rice and forthis episode of The Rice Stuff podcast
Nov 23, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA – There are two kinds of people in the world, those whose favorite subject in school was lunch, and liars.  But we’ve come a long way from soggy green beans, mystery meat, and sloppy joes; school meals are sophisticated, and nutritional considerations are the name of the game.  Which is why U.S.-grown rice fits so well, and why school foodservice is a major area of focus for USA Rice and for episode 34 of The Rice Stuff podcast.

Chef Brenda Wattles, a registered dietitian nutritionist, joins the podcast to talk about the work she does for the largest school district in Idaho, helping them prepare 25,000 healthy meals every school day.

“Chef Brenda has to balance so many elements for success – nutrition, ease of preparation, student acceptance, budget, and ingredient availability – which, as we learned, is becoming more of an issue as they struggle with supply chain problems plaguing everyone,” said Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of communications and domestic promotion and a show co-host.  “She’s got a harrowing job, but it’s vitally important.  She’s obviously excellent at it and she clearly enjoys it.”

Wattles has specifically consulted for USA Rice to develop rice-centric recipes and approaches for school foodservice audiences across the country and is the host of a new K-12 Rice to the Rescue video series recently launched on the USA Rice YouTube page.

USA Rice Director of Domestic Promotion Cameron Jacobs also joined the podcast to share additional elements of USA Rice activities in the space, including popular rice recipes that have been developed and distributed with the help of Chef Brenda.

“I was amazed at the variety of meals and how refined and trendy the recipes are,” said show co-host Lesley Dixon.  “I have no doubt that if my school was serving the kind of food Chef Brenda is making, my attendance would have been better.”

New episodes of The Rice Stuff are published on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and online at