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Sorghum might not be a common ingredient in your cafeterias yet—but it could be the next big grain in school meals. Pomptonian Food Service, based in Fairfield, N.J., recently partnered with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program for a special promotion featuring this ancient grain at Palisades Park Jr./Sr. High School in Palisades Park, N.J.

Individual portions of Cowboy Caviar made with sorghum, beans, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, corn and cilantro

Photo courtesy of Pomptonian Food Service

Toni Bowman, Director of Nutrition Services for Pomptonian Food Service, created the lunch menu featuring Cowboy Caviar, a take on salsa typically made with tomato, black beans, black eyed peas, corn, onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro—and, in Bowman’s recipe, sorghum! It was initially served to 125,000 students as part of an Earth Day celebration where students got to enjoy the Earth Day-inspired meal while learning about sorghum and then included on the menu at more than 100 school districts in New Jersey throughout the following week.

What’s so special about sorghum? This high-protein, antioxidant-rich and gluten-free ancient grain includes 12 essential nutrients and can be served like rice or quinoa. On top of the impressive nutritional profile, sorghum is a sustainable and environmentally friendly crop—in fact, growing sorghum is actually beneficial to the earth! Sorghum builds soil health by retaining moisture and nutrients, requires 30% less water than other grains and reduces the need for pesticides and insecticides.

As chefs and consumers alike become more concerned with sustainability, sorghum has been appearing in grocery stores and restaurants more and more frequently—and based on the success of Pomptonian Food Service’s sorghum-themed school lunch and the impressive list of nutrients the grain provides, it could be a new whole grain item for you to try out with students as well!

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