New USDA School Meal Regulations Take Effect Including Fat-Free Flavored Milk with 21% Lower Calories and 40% Less Sugar
WASHINGTON, August 30, 2012: As students head back to the classroom, school cafeterias are debuting more nutritious choices for kids, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and school flavored milk that is lower in sugar and calories than ever before. In fact, this year marks the first full school year of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new school lunch regulations aimed at improving the health and nutrition of our nation’s kids.
The nation’s milk processors are fulfilling their commitment to offering new school flavored milk products that are lower in calories and sugar, that are both delicious and nutritious. The average calories in school flavored milk has declined by more than 21% over the past five years and sugars have been cut dramatically by 40%. On average, school flavored milk now has 132 calories per serving. 1
When Milk Declines; Nutrition Declines
At the same time schools are revamping their menus to boost nutrition, one of the most nutrient-rich beverages on the tray is facing a decline. Unfortunately, school milk usage has actually dropped nearly 4% over the past three years, according to the 2011-2012 MilkPEP Annual School Milk Survey. 1
Contributing to this overall drop is the fact that some schools have removed flavored milk in an attempt to address concerns with childhood obesity. Research shows that this move may come with an alarming nutritional fallout. Milk consumption plummets by a dramatic 35% when flavored milk is eliminated, according to a recent study. Subsequently, many children miss out on the nutrients milk provides, and the nutrients kids aren’t getting by drinking milk prove hard and costly to replace. ² Flavored milk is the most popular choice in school lunch rooms and further research suggests students drink less milk when it is not offered – contributing to the detrimental decline in milk intake. 3
School Tools and Resources
School professionals play a key role in educating students, parents and other community influencers about milk’s nutritional benefits. A variety of flavored milk resources are available for free download at milkdelivers.org:
Experts, Including Moms, Believe in Nutritious Choices
“It’s important that kids learn how to make food choices in the lunch room to develop skills that last a lifetime,” said Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD. “By providing a variety of nutritious and delicious foods – like fat-free chocolate milk -- we’re teaching kids good decision-making and ensuring that lunch doesn’t end up in the trash. Simply put, when schools cut flavored milk, they also cut critical nutrients from students’ diets.”
In fact, research suggests “choice” helps boost kids’ overall intake of nutritious foods, and flavored milk is a nutrient-rich choice. 4 All milk is packed with 9 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium – all “nutrients of concern” according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. When kids skip milk at lunch, it’s nearly impossible to meet the needs for these vital nutrients during the rest of their day.
For many moms, flavored milk on the menu represents an important choice for their kids. Four out of five moms (79%) believe kids need healthy choices at school including chocolate milk, according to a nationally representative survey, while three in four (77%) say they think their children should be able to choose which beverage to drink at school. 5 Moms know they’re teaching their kids good food and nutrition lessons by offering choices.
Visit milkdelivers.org for additional marketing and education tools to help enhance school milk programs.
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The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation's milk processors, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The MilkPEP Board runs the National Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the health benefits of milk. For more information, go to www.milkdelivers.org. The tagline "got milk?"® was created for the California Milk Processor Board by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and is licensed by the national milk processor and dairy producer groups.