LUBBOCK, Texas — In a major step forward for the sorghum industry, school foodservice providers and American schoolchildren, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently added sorghum, a nutrient-rich, high-protein, gluten-free ancient whole grain, to its Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs. The Food Buying Guide is the primary resource used by school foodservice directors to build menus that comply with USDA nutrition requirements.
“The inclusion of sorghum in the Food Buying Guide is a monumental win for sorghum producers as we continue seeking to develop new markets for our crop,” United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) Executive Director Norma Ritz Johnson said. “Sorghum’s inclusion in the guide is pivotal in our efforts to increase its visibility and ease of use among foodservice professionals, as well as the students they serve, and the industry is excited to deliver this nutritious whole grain to the plates of America’s schoolchildren.”
In an effort extending over many months, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program has worked with USDA to add sorghum to the Food Buying Guide.
As of July 1, 2022, USDA has implemented a new requirement stating that at least 80% of the weekly grains in school lunch and breakfast menus must be whole-grain rich, which has resulted in school nutrition providers actively seeking foods that satisfy this requirement. As a nutrient-rich ancient whole grain, sorghum will prove to be the solution for school nutrition professionals for the upcoming school year and beyond.
“The Food Buying Guide is a critical resource on which foodservice professionals rely to formulate meal plans for school nutrition programs that meet USDA nutrition requirements,” Sorghum Checkoff Director of Food Innovations & Institutional Markets, Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD, said. “As the 2022-23 school year opens, schools are working around a new 80% whole grain requirement. This timely addition will give school nutrition providers a new ingredient to include in bowls, salads, soups, baked goods and more.”
The Food Buying Guide provides a roadmap for foodservice professionals to develop well-rounded nutritious menus by defining how certain foods contribute or credit toward federal nutrition guidelines. The inclusion of whole grain sorghum, pearled sorghum and sorghum flour in this Guide is an important acknowledgement by USDA that sorghum is a nutritious addition to the plates of American schoolchildren as a nutrient-rich, high-protein, gluten-free ancient whole grain.
Foodservice professionals who are interested in incorporating sorghum into their school menus as a healthy and gluten-free whole-grain can visit sorghumcheckoff.com, or contact Lanier Dabruzzi at email@example.com to learn more about purchasing and utilizing sorghum in a variety of ways offering a new and nutritious menu option to satisfy students of all ages.
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a producer-funded organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information about the USCP and other sorghum promotion projects please visit sorghumcheckoff.com.
–United Sorghum Checkoff Program