September marks National Rice Month and the start of the USA Rice Federation’s annual “Healthy Rice Bowls Contest” for kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) school foodservice directors and menu planners. Meeting a variety of school foodservice needs, rice bowls encourage healthier eating habits in students, help schools meet the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation for more whole grains on the menu, and fit students’ desires for more global flavors.

Entries will be accepted Thursday, September 1, through Friday, October 28, 2011. Winners will be promoted on USA Rice’s foodservice website,, and will receive:

  • Grand Prize:
    • $250 VISA gift card toward their school’s education fund
    • Two Aroma rice cookers one commercial-size cooker for their school and one consumer-size cooker for home
  • First and Second Runners-Up:
    • Each receives a commercial rice cooker for his/her school

Last year’s winner, Cynthia Ruffin, child nutrition director for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, increased lunch participation by 24 percent with her creative “Build-A-Bowl” rice bar featuring three options: Sweet and Spicy Chicken Rice Bowl, Thai Curry Rice Bowl, and California Sushi Rice Bowl.

“Introducing new flavors was such a success that we are planning to feature the rice bowl bar regularly,” Ruffin says.

For more entry information, rules and regulations, visit

Health & Nutrition, Industry News