LINCOLN, Neb.—The popular Ag Sack Lunch Program, which provides free sack lunches to Nebraska fourth-graders and shows them where their food comes from, wraps up its eighth year in May. Nearly 5,000 students from 95 schools will have participated in the program this school year.
The Ag Sack Lunch program is designed to be a fun program for fourth-graders—and by extension their parents–to demonstrate the importance of agriculture to Nebraska. Since its inception in 2010, the program has provided nearly 40,000 students with free lunches and an introduction to the state’s No.1 industry. Sponsors of this program include the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and the Nebraska Beef Council.
Each year, over 20,000 fourth-graders visit the State Capitol Building in Lincoln as part of their curriculum. The Ag Sack Lunch program ties into these visits by inviting teachers to participate in the educational sessions, which educate youth on our food production system.
Program sponsors budget for 5,000 free lunches a year, which consist of Nebraska-produced foods. Each student receives a special deck of playing cards, which include games and fun facts about agriculture. New this spring, was the addition of “Old Corn Maid” to the deck of cards. The cards were already equipped to play “Crazy Soybean,” but now students can also enjoy playing “Old Corn Maid” with their friends and family, while continuing to learn more about Nebraska agriculture.
Before the youth eat their lunch, they listen to a short presentation that teaches them about the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy. “Ag Ambassadors,” which consist of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students who are passionate about agricultural education, lead the sessions.
Through the Ag Sack Lunch program curriculum, Ag Ambassadors inform students that one in four jobs in Nebraska has some connection to agriculture, beyond farming itself, such as equipment manufacturing and sales, building construction, transportation and supermarket retailers. They also explain the state ranks first in the country for cattle on feed, sixth in pork production and that over one-third of Nebraska-produced grain is fed to livestock within the state.
Fourteen UNL students served as Ag Ambassadors throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Most of them are pursuing ag-related degrees. They are Kate Likens, Swanton; Sarah Wollenburg, Beatrice; Breann Zimmer, Pleasanton; Claire Dressman, Superior; Catherine Jones, Bellevue; Abby Steffen, Crofton; Emily Bergstrom, Wilcox, Jordan Bothern, Lincoln, Abby Durheim, X VA, Grace McDonald, Phillips, Heidi Borg, Allen, Mirissa Scholting, Louisville, Rylie Kalb from Wataga. IL and Abby Durheim, Sunbury, OH.