MOUNT VERNON, Mo. (AP) — The Mount Vernon School District is the first and so far only district to participate in a new program designed to use local cattle ranchers to add more meat to school lunches.

The program, MO Beef for MO Kids, is a joint effort of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Beef Industry Council, Opaa Food Management and the school district.

The Joplin Globe reports the program will double the beef included in the students' lunches, using meat from Lawrence County, which is the top cattle-producing county in the state.

Superintendent Scott Cook says the program will include teaching students about beef production and the health benefits of beef.

The program is part of the agriculture department's goal of increasing Missouri food offered at public institutions and hospitals.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com