The USA Rice Federation has announced the winners of its annual Healthy Brown Rice on the Menu Contest for K-12 schools. The contest focuses exclusively on whole grain brown rice and includes three categories: breakfast, lunch and rice bowl.

To participate in the contest, K-12 foodservice directors and menu planners used U.S.-grown brown rice as the central ingredient in one or more recipes on their school menu. From all the entries, six winners were selected—three Grand Prize and three runners-up—and three more received honorable mentions.

The Grand Prize winners each receive paid 2014 School Nutrition Association Annual Conference registration; a generous brown rice donation to their school from Uncle Ben’s, Riceland or Producers Rice Mill; a commercial size Aroma rice cooker for their school; and a consumer size rice cooker for their home kitchen.

The Grand Prize recipients are…

Breakfast: Dimitra Barrios, Foodservice Director for Chichester (PA) High School. Her Power Grain Breakfast Porridge includes U.S. brown rice, red quinoa, oats, ground flax seed, golden raisins, sliced almonds, honey, bananas and a hint of cinnamon. “Whole grains, like brown rice, provide our students with more sustainable energy and brain power,” says Barrios.
Lunch: Jill Patterson, Resident Dietitian for Weston (CT) Public High School. Her Coconut Curry Roasted Chicken, Thai Style Brown Fried Rice and Steamed Fresh Broccoli features U.S. brown rice, Thai coconut milk, fresh ginger and lemon grass and curried chicken finished with fresh lime and shredded toasted coconut. “Our goal is to serve nutrient-rich foods, and brown rice helps us do just that!” says Patterson. "The students appreciate us serving brown rice and especially enjoy the nutty quality of the rice.”
Rice Bowl: Kay Briles, Head Cook for Greenfield Elementary School in Baldwin, WI. Her Mexican Rice Bowl combines U.S. brown rice, chicken, black beans, sweet peppers, tomato sauce, corn, chili powder, cumin and minced garlic. “We serve healthy brown rice so the kids get variety in their meals,” says Briles. "The kids tell me they love the rice and ask for seconds.

The three runners-up, who each receive a $75 Amex gift card and one commercial size Aroma rice cooker, are…

Breakfast: Renee Swank, School Nutrition Manager for Chesapeake (VA) Public Schools. Her Tooty Fruity Rice Pancake includes U.S. brown rice, oranges, pineapples, bananas, pears, honey and a dash of cinnamon. “I use brown rice to encourage my students to not only make the healthiest meal choice, but also to incorporate different types of fruits and vegetables they would not normally try,” says Swank. "I want to be able to make a positive difference in my students’ eating habits.
Lunch: Stephen Riley, Food Site Manager for Chanhassen (MN) High School. His Brown Rice Club Wrap uses U.S. brown rice, shredded carrots, onions, crispy bacon and chicken topped with ranch dressing. “With the new and expanded whole grain requirement established for school lunches, brown rice is an excellent choice to fulfill those regulations,” Riley says.
Rice Bowl: Linda Mailhot, Food Service Director, Mount Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor, ME. Her Jambalaya combines U.S. brown rice, peppers, onions and diced ham. “Our brown rice dishes are very popular,” says Mailhot. "The students almost always choose a rice-based dish such as Jambalaya or as a side dish with stir-fries or stroganoff.

In addition, the three honorable mentions are Janice Sweeter of Sartell (MN) Middle School for Tropical Brown Rice, Roxanne Szalejko of Northwood Academy Charter School in Pennsylvania for Brown Rice-Stuffed Apples and Timothy Cipriano of Farmington (CT) Schools for Butternut Squash Brown Rice Risotto.

“Every year we are proud of the enthusiastic response to our ‘Healthy Rice Brown Rice on the Menu Contest,’ as it demonstrates K-12 foodservice professionals are embracing U.S.-grown rice,” says Anne Banville, vice president of domestic promotion for USA Rice Federation. “Their creative, innovative use of brown rice delivers nutritious foods and exciting flavors, and can help inspire other foodservice chefs and operators to incorporate more U.S. rice in a multitude of ways throughout their menus.”