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Alaska-grown salmon served to schools

By Shannon Ballard 6:53 AM March 20, 2014

Annual state grant gives schools $3 million to buy local food for Alaska students

ANCHORAGE – What are kids eating in Anchorage schools?

One thing is for sure: Most of it didn’t come from Alaska, but there’s a push from the state to change that.

The idea is simple: Offer kids healthy food that comes from where they live. On Wednesday, every elementary school in Anchorage had a new home-caught option on the lunch menu — an Alaska-harvested salmon patty.

“I like it because it’s fish and I like fish,” said Ava Pfau, a kindergartner at Creekside Park Elementary School.

The Anchorage School District is working to get more Alaska-grown food in schools, and hopes this is just the start.

Alaska’s schools offer very few foods that were grown, caught or harvested in the Last Frontier. An annual grant from the state aims to change that by giving schools a combined $3 million to buy local. However, it’s still difficult to get Alaska-grown food to the lunchroom.

“The growing season is so short up here that by the time school starts the growing season is pretty much already over,” said LaDonna Dean, an Anchorage School District dietitian.

Partners with the district have to plan a year in advance to plant enough crops or catch enough fish to meet the demand.

The district serves about 18,000 meals a day. Wednesday, ASD Superintendent Ed Graff shared one with Creekside Park students.

“To have something that’s home grown, made here and is healthy for them and is a great choice is really what it’s all about,” said Theresa Owens, principal at Creekside Park Elementary.

ASD is fishing for more local food choices for kids, making Alaska more sustainable.

“I like the food from Alaska. I’m Alaska Native,” said fifth grader Joshua Baehm.

Students grow in Alaska, and the district says their food should, too.

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