The Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recognized the Denison Independent School District this week for completing the 2017 Local Products Challenge.

Each October, the challenge encourages school nutrition teams to use more Texas based products in meals. The challenge is also meant to help educate children on healthy lifestyles and Texas agriculture.

“Schools that participate in the Local Products Challenge demonstrate a real commitment to combining nutrition education with their support for local economies,” Miller said in a press release. “When a school meal includes products like citrus, lean beef or low-fat milk from Texas, it provides a lesson in healthy eating that lasts a lifetime and an economic boost for the entire community.”

Participants have grown in number by 24 percent since 2016. More than 175 school districts participated in the 2017 challenge.

Students in DISD are able to participate in activities allowing them to taste test new food options, garden on school campus and use farm to school lessons for hands-on learning. The DISD food service team aims to increase awareness of food choices and sources by helping students become more interactive with the process.

DISD Superintendent Henry Scott said, in a press release, the DISD food service team makes a big difference in the lives of students.

“The food service team at Denison ISD strives to provide all students a healthy and well-balanced meal every time a child eats in one of our school cafeterias,” Scott said. “Our food service personnel see what they do every day as more than just a job. They see what they do as an opportunity to help raise students that are knowledgeable about their eating habits and how the foods they eat can improve their overall health and well-being.”

Texas schools in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs serve more than 900 million meals per year. TDA’s challenge, as well as other efforts such as the Farm Fresh Initiative, encourage schools to support Texas agriculture and local businesses by keeping their buying power close to home.