BOSTON, June 21, 2012 – This Year “Veteran” and “Rookie” schools are invited to step up to the plate to compete in the Whole Grains Challenge, an initiative of Boston-based 501(c)3 educational non-profit Oldways and its Whole Grains Council (WGC). With new USDA school food rules taking effect in July requiring at least half the grains served be “whole grain-rich,” this year’s Challenge will encourage K-12 schools to share their success stories for promoting whole grain consumption.  The grand prize, awarded to one school, will be a visit from a guest chef to hold a workshop on making whole grain kid-friendly dishes.

Any U.S. school participating in the National School Lunch Program can compete in one of two categories.  “Veteran” schools are considered those that jumped into the whole grain game long before the new rules came out and are trailblazers in the cafeteria.  “Rookies” are schools that are ramping up quickly to meet the July 1 requirements, are motivated to learn but could use some help finding the best ways to cook and serve whole grains. All are encouraged to compete in the Challenge. 

“Schools are scrambling to quickly translate the new school lunch regulations into healthy dishes kids will want to eat,”” said Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for the Whole Grains Council and Oldways.  “Our 2012 Whole Grains Challenge will encourage Veterans and Rookies alike to share their tips, stories and recipes to help guide hungry kids toward delicious whole grain choices from pizza and pilaf to sandwiches and salads.”

Entries will be judged according to their potential for helping improve understanding of how to bring more whole grains to schools. Five winners will be chosen from each of our categories, Veterans and Rookies. Entries should detail a school’s successes with whole grains, and any remaining barriers.  The Whole Grains Council will comb through all entries, pick the best ones, and then share them in a booklet of Whole Grain School Success Strategies – a booklet that will benefit schools and kids everywhere.

Schools can take part in this year’s Challenge by visiting the Whole Grains Challenge page from October 1st – November 1st and submitting their entry via the online entry form.  2012 winners will be announced in mid-November.

The Challenge comes on the heels of this year’s Whole Grains Month in September when consumers can celebrate with a Whole Grain Deal of the Day.  This fun-filled month-long calendar will be chock full of whole grain daily deals – from contests and coupons to free samples and more.  To participate, consumers simply visit the Whole Grains Council website each day in September to check out the deal that day.  Whole Grains Month was created by the Whole Grains Council to build awareness of these healthy, delicious whole grains.

As an added bonus, to help schools contend with the new school rules and to inspire more whole grain recipes, the Whole Grains Council created a new foodservice recipe collection based on the successes of past Whole Grains Challenge entrants. The Whole Grains Recipes for Foodservice 2012 Edition is a free, downloadable resource; with dishes like Saffron Farro Risotto and classics like Brown Rice Pilaf it is sure to encourage even more whole grain recipes and happy, healthy kids.

For more information about the Whole Grains Challenge, please visit:

Please contact Rachel Greenstein (rachel @ or 617-896-4888) for more information, including hi-res graphics, interviews with WGC and Oldways program managers, or recipes.

About Oldways and the Whole Grains Council
Oldways ( is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science and tradition.  The Whole Grains Council (WGC), an Oldways program, has been working since 2003 to increase consumption of whole grains for better health, and in 2005 introduced the Whole Grain Stamp, now used on more than 7,200 products in 35 countries. The WGC’s many initiatives help consumers to find whole grain foods and understand their health benefits; help manufacturers and restaurants to create delicious whole grain foods; and help the media to write accurate, compelling stories about whole grains.  You can learn more about both at and