August 29, 2022

K-12 Rice to the Rescue Supports School Districts In Need

Recipients of the K-12 RTR Sweepstakes pose for a photo. USA Rice expanded their K-12 Rice to the Rescue (RTR) program with the launch of their District Donations Relief initiative for schools nationwide. Four schools received a $1,000 industry donation to support their school nutrition programs, while an additional to eleven districts which were gifted RTR Kits consisting of a 60-cup commercial rice cooker, a 10-pound sample of U.S.-grown rice, how-to rice guides, rice recipe guides, and more. The K-12 Rice to the Rescue program was designed to provide support and resources to school districts’ nutrition programs while showcasing the importance of sourcing U.S.-grown rice and increasing rice usage in school menus.

“USA Rice launched the K-12 RTR program to support school nutrition programs facing constant issues ranging from supply chain disruptions to labor shortages with the understanding that high-quality and low-cost U.S.-grown rice could offset some of those issues. Now as more schools continue to face these issues, we are impressed with the ongoing commitment of districts to serve students and families nutritious and delicious meals. That inspiring commitment was the motivator to create this program, which works to show the domestic rice industry’s appreciation of school nutrition officials and provide helpful educational resources designed specifically for them,” says Cameron Jacobs, Director of Domestic Production at USA Rice. “With continued uncertainty around access to ingredients and school meal waivers, the U.S. rice industry is proud to support those responsible for feeding students across the country.” 

In addition to the industry’s donation support, USA Rice also held an official sweepstakes for school nutrition professionals during the first half of the year with LaRetta Foxley of North Davis Preparatory Academy in Layton, UT taking home the grand prize. The winning school received a Rice to the Rescue kit and a bulk 300-pound rice donation, the majority of which was brown and long grain rice, but also included arborio, medium grain, jasmine, and sprouted rice.  

Rice to the Rescue Mailer KitFoxley’s submission described how the K-12 RTR program had provided her with new ideas and inspiration on ways to add more rice to her school’s weekly menus.  She said the training videos and other K-12 resources allowed her culinary team to teach students the benefits of rice and share that the rice the schools served is U.S.-grown – an important point that helped increase consumption among her students. When asked about her favorite way to serve rice, Foxley mentioned rice pudding at breakfast: “It’s a great way to start your day.  Move over oatmeal and say “hello” to delicious rice pudding or warm rice with cinnamon milk.” The school nutrition veteran said the sweepstakes prize has already been put to good use, with the menuing of a new Thai Curry Chicken with Mango Rice dish and the distribution of the recipes to her students so they can learn how to properly cook rice and replicate the dishes at home with their families, helping make rice a staple in their lives.

As part of the K-12 RTR program, USA Rice also created a dedicated webpage for school nutrition professionals which houses all of our K-12 resources including specific information on recipe production as well as a four-part instructional video series that positions U.S.-grown rice as a practical way to offset challenges being faced in school meal programs across the country. 

A versatile, readily available ingredient that shines in the center of the plate or as a hearty side or base for an entrée, rice is a fan favorite for both school foodservice operators and students and provides an easy way to meet whole grain requirements. Students K-12 love the familiarity and flavor of U.S.-grown rice, plus the nutritional benefits needed for learning.