IMG_0254A high-fat, high-sodium, low-fiber menu is a typical lunch at many American elementary schools. Deep-fried popcorn chicken, tiny taters tots, bread, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and milk are menu mainstays routinely featured alongside fatty items such as pizza, french fries, hot dogs, and a mystery pork product called “ribicue.”   On a national level these typical offerings to school age children have galvanized not only high-profile chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Rachael Ray but also First Lady Michelle Obama.

On a local level the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma through its Bison Program has decided to do something about the local Perkins-Tryon ISD lunch menu.  The Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) offers a grant used to help decrease the health risk in our educational systems by incorporating buffalo meat into children’s diets.  As a recipient of the ITBC grant The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma Bison program, the Oklahoma Farm to School Program, the Perkins Family Clinic Community Health Department and the Perkins-Tryon Independent School District will offer their first buffalo meat integration into the school menu November 13th of this year.

Bison – the red meat of the new millennium is a delicious, healthy alternative to beef, pork, chicken, and fish.  Bison is nutrient dense, low in calories and has a greater concentration of iron and Vitamin E, which has a positive impact on combating diabetes, heart disease and a number of diet related health issues.

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Curtis Washington, Agriculture Director and Buffalo Herd Administrator, “the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma hasbeen preserving our buffalo herds since early 2000, it’s part of our heritage as Ioway people.  Our connection to the buffalo has always been in existence in our oral traditions, in our dances and in our clans, those ties still exist today.  We take every precaution to make sure our 72 member herd is healthy and thriving.  Part of that means DNA testing to insure we have a diverse healthy buffalo herd.  Our entire herd is grass fed and hormone free being able to share the benefits nutritionally with our surrounding community is exciting.”

“Perkins-Tryon Independent School District is our initial attempt at incorporating bison meat into area school lunch programs and we are the first and only tribe in Oklahoma to participate in such an endeavor.  Hopefully, other tribal herd programs will want to follow the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma lead.  If they do, bison will dominate school lunch programs in Oklahoma”, said Chalis Cox Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma Business Committee Secretary.