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By KIM HYATT firstname.lastname@example.org
OWATONNA — Students at Owatonna Junior High School had several special guests at lunch on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of agriculture in the area obviously. So why not utilize it? It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Representative John Petersburg as he was eating lunch at OJHS to celebrate Farm to School Month.
Petersburg was there with Charlie Poster, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Gary Johnson of Johnson’s Oakside Orchard and John Peterson of Ferndale Market, a free-range turkey farm in Cannon Falls.
To increase the sales of Minnesota agricultural products in schools, the MDA provides grants through the Agricultural Grown, Research and Innovation (AGRI) program.
The Owatonna school district was recently a recipient of the $50,000 AGRI grant and another $50,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield, who partnered with MDA as a way to reduce childhood obesity and encourage healthy eating. With the money, OJHS was able to purchase new cooler and freezer units to be used as the central storage unit in the district.
What more fitting way to celebrate than with a serving of tater tot hotdish? But this traditional Minnesota meal is with a twist — ground turkey from Ferndale instead of beef.