The St. Louis District Dairy Council is ready to help southern Illinois schools get off to a nutritionally strong academic year.
The dairy council's Jaelyn Munson says the agency works with Food Service Directors on ways to promote dairy products in school meals.
She says the USDA is trying to make school meals as balanced and fresh as possible.
"Ensuring that fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat or fat free milk make it to every student's tray. Components of the meal are carefully calculated to ensure schools are offering maximum nutrition while minimizing the saturated fat, sodium and sugar."
Munson says in addition to local milk, many school meal programs bring in farm fresh produce from school gardens or local farms.
Dozens of schools across the region have also applied for cafeteria funds through the St. Louis District Dairy Council.
Munson says this includes Grab-N-Go breakfast, Breakfast after the Bell and even Breakfast in the Classroom.
"Where the cafeteria delivers like a bagged breakfast to the classrooms and the students can eat it there. That's been also really successful in making sure that students eat."
Munson says research shows students who eat breakfast attend school more often, achieve more academically and are healthier overall.