WA farm bill pushes local crops in school lunches

KREM TV - Breanna Roy

SPOKANE – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) toured Spokane Seed, promoting the farm bill that would devote more money to researching peas and lentils.

Cantwell said it’s all an effort to get healthier, nutrient-rich “pulse” foods in kids meals at school while boosting Washington’s agricultural economy.

“While people talk about software and aerospace, agriculture is still the number-one employer in Washington State,” Cantwell said. “So to have this in the school lunch program really is a shot in the arm to our economy.”

Dry Pea & Lentil Council CEO Tim McGreevy said lentils have four times more fiber than brown rice.

“Not only are they a nutrient-dense food, but they’re also least cost,” McGreevy said. “We have to figure out ways to increase the use of these crops in our school systems.”

Mead School Dist. child nutrition director Kim Elkins said the schools already use peas and lentils in their food, but more research needs to be done to develop more kid-friendly recipes.

“If we can incorporate things like hummus or tortillas made with some of the flours made from the pulse crops, it’ll just add more nutrients to the products that the kids eat at lunch every day,” Elkins said.