Salmon for School Lunches Project Begins Taste Tests

Salmon patties, salmon patties with sauce and sweet and sour
salmon balls with brown rice will be rated by children visiting the Tanana Valley
Fair in Fairbanks in early August, to help researchers determine future rural school
lunch plans.
The goal of researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
is to provide healthier lunches with wild Alaska salmon and then measure the health
impacts on the kids themselves. Recipes for the taste testing were created by the
Cooperative Extension Service in Fairbanks, in collaboration with the Alaska Farm
to School Program, and will include a taste test between local and imported vegetables
as well.
Andrea Bersamin, the research project’s principal investigator,
is a nutrition professor at UAF.
The goal, she said, “is to find a way for more Alaska commercial
fish to stay in the state while providing an excellent source of local food for
Alaska’s children. Beyond the nutritional values, the project includes an economic
feasibility study, curriculum and program development. Some of the grant money will
be used to purchase fish for the program from area fishermen and fish processors,
once local preferences for how the fish should be prepared are established, so the
program could have the added bonus of boosting local economies.
The taste tests began earlier this summer at the Center for Alaska
Native Health Research at UAF. The center is part of the UAF Institute of Arctic
Biology, which funded the research through a $1.1 million federal Department of
Agriculture grant.