Sixth grader Austin Oiler grabs a smoothie in the Canaan Middle School breakfast line. Austin`s school district purchased smoothie machines for every school building using grant money provided by dairy farmers as part of the Fuel Up To Play 60 program.

New statistics also show surge in school yogurt and milk consumption

PLAIN CITY, Ohio – New statistics just released by the American Dairy Association Mideast show that more children are choosing to eat breakfast at school. Nationally, about 28 percent of children are lining up for breakfast at school. But thanks to dairy farmer-funding, breakfast numbers have climbed to more than 43 percent for Ohio and West Virginia schools receiving a Fuel Up To Play 60 grant. The grants are part of a national program, co-created with the NFL, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, and funded by dairy farmers in each community to implement healthy changes, like improving school breakfast.

“We’re trying to offer different things that will entice students who maybe don’t have time to eat breakfast in the morning because they are rushing out the door, said Tonya Grove, Food Service Director for Jonathan Alder Local Schools in Plain City, Ohio. That includes fresh yogurt-based smoothies blended by smoothie machines that the school district purchased using dairy farmer-funding. “Smoothies have been a big win for us. Students love the different tastes and flavors so it’s something new and exciting for them to try that they may not have the opportunity to consume outside of school.”

The expanded options are also leading to other healthy choices in the cafeteria line. Many parents have started to view these tips on school nutrition and incorporate them into their children’s daily routine. American Dairy Association Mideast statistics show 88 percent of kids are drinking more milk and 77 percent are eating more yogurt at schools receiving grant money in Ohio and West Virginia. Nationally, kids are also eating more yogurt and drinking more milk at school with 78 percent drinking more milk and 81 percent eating more yogurt.

School nutrition directors like Tonya Grove say the menu changes are helping to keep kids fueled up, focused and ready to work in the classroom. “If we can offer something healthy like a smoothie that contains a lot of protein, we know the kids will have more energy that they can channel into their school work instead of hitting a wall before lunch.”