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Wisconsin Chili school lunch earns $100,000 USDA grant

Kaitlyn Riley

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Putting farm-fresh foods in front of kids, the USDA added a scoop of support for a Wisconsin school recipe.

The La Crosse County Health Department launched a Farm-to-School program to shift local fruits and vegetables from side dishes to entrees. The result boiled down to a taste-tested and approved chili recipe. While creating the recipe, the goal was to use locally-sourced ingredients from area farmers. It had to be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The health department did a soft, statewide launch last year and had 75,000 participants in the Wisconsin Chili Lunch.

Maggie Smith, health educator, said the USDA rewarded these efforts with a $100,000 grant. 

“What that will do is it will really put legs under the project and give us the ability to work with different growers,” Smith said. “We are looking at some dried beans that are grown locally. We are looking to grow those supply-chains among frozen food products and make them more accessible statewide.”

The Wisconsin Chili recipe can be found online