Ag Ambassador Makayla Burg, Papillion, tells fourth-graders from school about the importance of agriculture to the state while they enjoy free sack lunches consisting of 100 percent Nebraska-produced food. (Photo courtesy of Brokaw Marketing.)

The popular Ag Sack Lunch program, designed to increase agricultural awareness among Nebraska young people and their families, returns for its 10th school year.

The program provides a free lunch and an ag-focused learning experience to fourth-graders who come to Lincoln each year to tour the State Capitol Building as part of their educational curriculum. While they eat their lunches, students hear a presentation about the important role agriculture plays in Nebraska’s economy, as well as the crops and livestock species that are raised in the state.

The sack lunches consist of Nebraska-produced food items to help students appreciate where their food comes from. They also receive card games called “Crazy Soybean” and “Old Corn Maid,” which include ag facts, to take home to play with their families and friends.

Since the first Ag Sack Lunch program during the 2010-2011 school year, over 45,000 students have participated in the event. Last year the program provided 5,250 lunches.

The program is sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Beef Council, and Midwest Dairy.

“Over the last nine years, the Ag Sack Lunch Program has been successful in helping our fourth-graders understand where their food comes from and how Nebraska’s farm production methods help protect the environment while ensuring food safety and promoting animal health,” says Victor Bohuslavsky, NSB executive director. “Participating teachers continue to tell us how their students learn so much from the presentations.”

Pam Schrader, teacher at Lincoln Christian School, says she appreciates that the sponsoring groups continue to offer the Ag Sack Lunch program. “It is a fun way for the kids to receive ag information and relate it to their lunch. It is a really good program and very well worth our time,” she said.

Dianne L’Heureux, teacher at High Plains Community School, agreed. “I am impressed with the way the student presenters control the audience and engage them while they are eating. The students are hungry and enjoy the lunch but they start appreciating where the lunch comes from. So many of the students are not connected to farms anymore they do not think where this food is produced.”

Ag Sack Lunch invitations have been sent to fourth-grade teachers at 540 elementary schools in 44 eastern Nebraska counties. Reservations for the 2019-2020 school year are limited to 5,250 students on a first-come, first-served basis. These spots fill up quickly, so teachers are urged to sign up as soon as possible—even if their state capitol tour dates have not been finalized yet. Reservations can be placed online at agsacklunchprogram.com.

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