Sorghum is a highly nutritious grain grown all over the world, in some places for thousands of years. Calorie rich, high in protein, fiber, and carbs, but low in fat and gluten free, it is a staple grain for much of the world’s population, particularly in India.

Here in the United States, sorghum is grown mostly in Kansas and Texas, however, it isn’t as popular here as elsewhere in the world. That may be about to change now that the USDA has decided to add it to its Child Nutrition Buying Guide.

School kitchens need to make menus that comply with USDA nutritional requirements and when they do, they use that guide, which is why it is so important for growers to get their crop added to it. What better way to publicize your grain than to put it on the menus of thousands of school cafeterias? Doing so also introduces it to a new generation and normalizes it for them.

That is why the addition of sorghum to the guide was such a win for the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), a producer-funded organization based in Texas whose main focus is the promotion and research of the ancient grain. It took months to convince the USDA to add it, but it was a new rule that made it an attractive addition. You see, the USDA recently changed one of their nutritional requirements for school menus, and now the grains used have to be at least 80% whole grains, both breakfast and lunch. It didn’t take a very strong argument from the USCP to convince the USDA. Sorghum got the nod.

As stated above, sorghum is nutritionally dense, but it is also quite versatile. It can be used to make flour, syrup, and even ethanol. Common uses of it consist of simply cooking it off, like rice or quinoa, and then either eating it as couscous or using it to dress up a salad. The latter is most likely how it will be employed on school menus.

For more information, you can visit the USCP website. Also helpful is the National Sorghum Producers website.