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Oh the Meals You Can Make With USDA Foods and Some Creativity

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” These words, spoken by Albert Einstein, can hold true for anything. USDA’s Commodity Procurement Program enjoys seeing schools and other organizations develop creative, healthy meals featuring foods we purchase for federal feeding programs. We hope that finding innovative ways to use USDA foods is contagious and that others catch on.

During a recent conference, USDA saw how a bit of ingenuity can turn low-sodium corn, dried beans, and fresh squash into a tasty meal. Inspired by the American Indian tradition of the three sisters, Tocabe, an American Indian Eatery used corn and beans from USDA Foods and squash from the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to make a healthy soup.

The live cooking demo by Tocabe included several creative meals using USDA Foods. Photo courtesy of Sara Hernandez, AMS

The live cooking demo by Tocabe included several creative meals using USDA Foods. Photo courtesy of Sara Hernandez, AMS

The restaurant made their three sisters soup during a live cooking demonstration at the National Association of Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations Conference. The goal was to demonstrate how USDA Foods could combat health issues prevalent on Indian reservations, including obesity and diabetes. However, this demo can be used as a blueprint by any school or organization looking to develop healthy options with our foods. In just a few minutes and only using basic kitchen utensils, the restaurant turned these items into a hearty and healthy dish.

USDA participates in these types of conferences to help organizations bring positive changes to their communities. Through initiatives like the Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), we provide recipients quality, wholesome foods. Administered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), this program provides quality food to low-income communities on American Indian reservations.

The FDPIR also helps our nation’s producers and businesses by giving them an additional outlet for their foods. Like the National School Lunch Program, our Commodity Procurement Program gives businesses of all sizes a chance to compete for contracts to supply food for this program.

If you would like to become a vendor to supply food for FDPIR or another one of our programs, check out our Commodity Procurement site. We also have a small business team and Outreach Office that can help newcomers learn the procurement process and become approved vendors.

The three sisters soup is one of many innovative meals that we have seen featuring USDA foods. If you want to create a similar dish and are looking for some inspiration, check out the FNS website. Their Recipe Box has some great options for all. USDA hopes to see others use their creativity to develop healthy meals because healthy eating is something we all can support!

Tocabe puts on a live cooking demo for attendees of the National Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) Conference. The demo showed how USDA Foods could be used to combat health issues like obesity and diabetes. Photo courtesy of Sara Hernandez, AMS

Tocabe puts on a live cooking demo for attendees of the National Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) Conference. The demo showed how USDA Foods could be used to combat health issues like obesity and diabetes. Photo courtesy of Sara Hernandez, AMS

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