Campus news items: Boise State researches locally sourced school meals

Using a $16.1 million federal grant, Boise State University will work with 70 school districts to foster the use of locally sourced food.

The research initiative is called Project SCALES (Supporting Community Agriculture and Local Education Systems). Over the next five years, the Boise State researchers will work with two sets of 35 school districts — a set of rural districts, then a set of rural, suburban or urban districts. The goal is to encourage partnerships and innovations to bring more locally sourced foods into school cafeterias.

“During the pandemic we saw that so many school nutrition directors worked hard and innovated rapidly to address hunger in their communities,” said Boise State College of Education professor Lindsey Turner, director of Project SCALES. “They were particularly effective when they had flexibility to be innovative, and had the resources and support they needed. Learning from that work, this initiative will provide both support and flexibility to districts as they find innovative ways to partner with growers and producers to keep students well-nourished.”

Funding for the research comes from a $16.1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant — the largest single sponsored award in Boise State’s history.

Smoked out: Researchers look at links between wildfire, reduced potato yields

Exposure to extreme smoke can reduce potato plant yields, according to preliminary University of Idaho-Boise State research.

The researchers are in the midst of a two-year project, studying the relationship between heavy wildfire smoke and potato yields.

Researchers looked at two potato varieties, finding mixed results.

For the Clearwater Russet, wildfire exposure reduced the yield of potatoes exceeding 6 ounces by 12%, but it did not lead to an increase in misshapen potatoes. For the Russet Burbank, the size of harvest potatoes was unchanged, but the number of misshapen and unusable potatoes increased by 3%.

“As we look at these varieties, if we see some that are less responsive to smoke, growers and processors can start looking at using those long term,” said Mike Thornton, a U of I Department of Plant Sciences professor and a project leader.

A $125,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant is funding the two-year study.

Idaho State reports enrollment increase …

For the fourth consecutive semester, Idaho State University is touting an enrollment increase.

Spring enrollment totaled 10,601 students, up 3.1% from the previous spring.

The numbers are a bit of a mixed bag, however. Undergraduate enrollment increased by 4.2%, while graduate enrollment decreased by 0.7%.

“Student enrollment, retention, and graduation are top priorities for our university,” Idaho State President Kevin Satterlee said in a news release. “We are excited to see another increase in enrollment, but this report is about more than just numbers. More students at Idaho State means that we are able to change even more lives with the quality education we provide.”

… while NIC, NNU enrollment numbers decline

The spring enrollment news wasn’t as good at two other campuses.

Embroiled in an ongoing accreditation battle, North Idaho College is reporting nearly a 10% enrollment drop among degree-seeking students.

Academic enrollment totaled 1,969 students, down from 2,186 the previous spring. But dual-credit enrollment totaled 1,319, a 5% increase.

Meanwhile, Northwest Nazarene University is reporting a 7.5% drop in graduate and undergraduate enrollment.

All told, the Nampa-based university logged spring graduate and undergraduate enrollment of 1,659, down from a total of 1,793 students the previous year.

NNU also reported 5,748 concurrent enrollment students for spring semester.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday