September has begun and it is the start of school for many people. Going back to school means all sorts of things, such as waking up early, doing homework, studying for quizzes and exams, participating in sports, and many other activities. But what about dairy? How does dairy fit into a busy school schedule?

The American Dairy Association North East works with schools throughout the state to ensure that kids are getting dairy in their diets. They have created in school programs such as Breakfast After the Bell and Fuel up to Play 60.

Breakfast After the Bell allows students to eat breakfast from their classroom, in the cafeteria, or on-the-go. You might have heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this holds true. Studies show that kids who eat breakfast are more alert, have less visits to the school nurse and lower discipline rates.

The United States Department of Agriculture allows schools to now offer low-fat flavored milk as an option for both breakfast and lunch. Offering flavored milk at schools encourages more students to drink milk. Milk is very important in school meal programs because of its nutrient package. Many school-aged kids and adolescents fall short in having the recommended amount of dairy and milk in their diets and school meals help students meet the dietary recommendation.

What about hybrid learning and having access to milk and other dairy products?

This year, many parents and students have the option to either attend school in person or choose an online hybrid learning option. Since March, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service have been giving out meals to families. They are available by having drive-thru meal pickups and/or bus deliveries to houses.

Another way to incorporate dairy into one’s life is by making delicious breakfasts/lunches using dairy. There are always great recipes online that you can try, or you can try this Apple-Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, which is perfect for using fresh apples this fall.

APPLE-CHEDDAR MACARONI AND CHEESE

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup dry elbow macaroni

1 ½ cups small unpeeled and diced apples

2 Tbs butter

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 Tbs all purpose flour

2 ¼ cup milk

1 small bay leaf

2 1/3 cups shredded sharp white or yellow cheddar cheese

½ tsp dry sherry

salt(optional)

½ tsp ground white pepper (optional)

1/3 cup bread crumbs.

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 1 ½ quart round casserole dish; set aside.

Cook pasta in a large saucepan. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and return pasta to saucepan, add apples.

Meanwhile, melt butter in medium heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat about 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour, cook and stir about 1 minute or until fragrant

Slowly stir in milk to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Add bay leaf

Reduce heat to low and cook sauce for 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Stir in 2 cups of the cheese and dry sherry. Cook and stir about 1 minute or until cheese is melted.

Remove from heat; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cheese sauce to pasta-apple mixture; gently stir until well combined.

Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven about 30 minutes or just until heated through and lightly browned.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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