Senator Cantwell Tests Hummus At Mead High School

By Paige Browning

After a tug-o-war between lawmakers over what to include in the Farm Bill, out popped legislation that, among other things, will put chickpeas and lentils on more students plates. US Senator Maria Cantwell visited Spokane today (Friday) to talk to students about provisions that affect the Northwest.
 
Washington is the nation’s largest chickpea state, producing almost half of the US total, which is why Cantwell is excited about two new projects. One sets aside 25-million dollars a year for five years for research on the nutrition benefits of pulse crops. Nutrition director Kim Elkins at Mead High School says pulse crops like chickpeas are nutrient rich and high in protein.
 
Elkins: “Students today, they want options that are healthy, vegetarian, and locally produced. Pulse crops meet all those criteria.”
 
She says Mead has started using lentils and chickpeas in some cafeteria products. Senator Cantwell sampled their hummus in the school cafeteria. She says more schools will serve pulse crops through a second program in the bill. The pulse initiative pilot program offers grants to schools who want to use pulse crops in cafeteria lunches.
 
Cantwell: “So we’re hoping that places like Mead High School or other school districts in Washington state, will taken advantage of this program to serve healthier lunches. They’ll be able to get support for products, like beans and lentils that can be used in everything from tortillas to flours.”
 
Cantwell thinks if lentils are spotlighted as nutritious, and offered in schools, their demand will go up. This could mean economic growth for Washington farmers, who already produce 80,000 acres of chickpeas a year.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio
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