Schools encourage cheese with positive results

June 16, 2008 02:34 PM
 
To meet the goal of improved cheese sales, counter top coolers at the schools were stocked with a variety of cheese products that could be purchased by students a la carte.

Students in the Goddard Public Schools chose cheese from their school cafeteria more than three times as often during a pilot program initiated by the Kansas City Division of Midwest Dairy Association this spring.  The effort was designed to increase cheese sales and consumption while educating students about the health benefits of cheese.

To meet the goal of improved cheese sales, counter top coolers at the schools were stocked with a variety of cheese products that could be purchased by students a la carte. Cheese was also incorporated into school menus and offered as a side item once a week.
 

Before the pilot, 424 cheese items from the menus were sold over a two-month period; the new offerings resulted in a sharp increase to 14,228 cheese items purchased during the two-month pilot. "This project shows that schools can offer nutrient rich foods and students will embrace them,” said Tami Larson, Midwest Dairy Association's Kansas school nutrition program manager.
 

Additional results confirm the school's success: 1,785 additional reimbursable meals were served due to the project. When students came through the line missing one component of the meal, they were offered a variety of cheeses from a Got Cheese? cooler bag. The addition made the meal reimbursable through the national school lunch program, and the large increase in reimbursable meals had a positive financial impact on the school district. Due to the excellent results, school officials have also encouraged other districts to increase the availability of cheese through similar programs.
 

Dairy farmers are also pleased with the results. Kansas dairy farmer Byron Lehman, who chairs the Kansas City Division of Midwest Dairy Association, explains, "Being able to add nutrition to students' diets in schools and promote dairy products is a benefit to everyone involved—students, teachers and farmers. Increased nutrition and participation in the school lunch program is one of the goals we as farmers are trying to reach.”
 

Of the cheese products provided, Colby Jack was by far the most popular, with cheddar and mozzarella taking second and third places, respectively.


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