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Healthy Brown Rice Meals

Healthy Rice Meals Right for Schools

USA Rice Contest Winners Share Popular Whole Grain Rice Meals

Rice Meals have always been a smart, nutritious choice for your school lunch program. Students and teachers give them high grades for taste, appeal and meal variety. Now, whole grain brown and colored rice meals are adding a new taste to school meals.
Adding whole grain rice meals to your menu:

• Fits the USDA Guidelines and MyPlate recommendations to serve more whole grains
• Helps promote healthful eating habits for your students
• Is easy to plan, prepare and serve
• Stretches food dollars to help balance lower-cost/commodity ingredients with higher-cost proteins
• Reflects the hottest trends in foodservice today for more ethnic and global flavors, and allows students to “customize” their food options

But don’t just take our word for it. See what school foodservice operators say about the versatility and taste appeal of whole grain rice.
The USA Rice Federation sponsors an annual “Healthy Brown Rice on the Menu Contest” for school foodservice directors across the country to share their ideas and success stories for serving healthy meals for school lunch.

This year’s entries were creative, inspiring and showcased brown rice’s versatility in multiple menu applications including breakfast, salads, stir-fries, hot entrées and casseroles. Three 2012 grand prize winners received paid 2013 SNA Conference registration, a 50-lb. brown rice donation to their school and two Aroma rice cookers. Two runners-up received a $75 Amex gift card and one Aroma rice cooker. Here are their winning entries:

Grand Prize Winners


Renee Swank, School Nutrition Manager, and Erin Thacker, Nutrition and Wellness Educator for Chesapeake Public Schools in Chesapeake, VA; for their Rice and Veggie Breakfast Burrito with peas, yellow and orange peppers, tomatoes, dark green broccoli, corn and carrots in a whole grain tortilla with brown rice.

"Brown rice is an essential part of our menus because it is a whole grain item that the students really enjoy. That is not always easy to find in whole grain products."


Angie Gaszak, Nutrition Specialist for St. Paul Public Schools in St. Paul, MN, for her Moroccan Rice recipe featuring Uncle Ben's® parboiled brown rice, raisins, sweet potatoes, chopped spinach and a variety of herbs and spices.

"St. Paul Public Schools made a choice six years ago to work toward a 100% whole grain menu and swap out white rice with brown rice. By doing this, Nutrition Services is not only able to meet the cultural preferences of many of our students, but also provide a healthy, wholesome, whole-grain-rich lunch."

Rice Bowl

Dimitra Kostos from Chichester High School in Chichester, PA, for her Orange Glazed Brown Rice Salad with brown rice, garbanzo beans, celery, bell peppers, mandarin oranges, cranberries, fresh mint and an orange ginger dressing.

"Chichester serves brown rice to be healthy and provide whole grain products to our students."



Pamela Sloan, Culinary Arts Teacher for Manchester High School in Midlotian, VA, for her Pineapple Macadamia Sticky Rice recipe with sweet and spicy garlic broccoli, sweet potatoes and pineapple-macadamia rice pilaf.

"Brown rice has a delicious nutty flavor, provides color and holds up well when cooked, providing a great texture. I love showing my students that healthy food tastes great!"

Rice Bowl

Lisa Rock, Food Coordinator, Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson, VT, for her Rice Vegetable Salad featuring green and red peppers, red onion and peas with parsley, dill and a vinaigrette.

"Laraway is an alternative school for troubled youth. Many of our students do not get healthy meals at home, so I make sure healthy choices are offered at school. The brown rice fits that criteria, and the students like it too."

A special thanks to our partners for providing brown rice donations to our Grand Prize Winners.

Need help getting started?

Download our "Kids Love...Rice Bowls" brochure:

The brochure offers tips on planning a Rice Bowl station, planogram showing how bowls can be assembled, and menu suggestions for implementing ethnic, regional American, contemporary and breakfast concepts. Try a Sweet-and-Sour Bowl, Chili Bowl, Pizza Bowl, or Huevos Breakfast Bowl!