Jessica Shelly, a Food Service director for Cincinnati public schools for 8 years, tells of her drive to keep flavored milk in her school district, all to help ensure her students would continue to benefit from its essential nutrients. She worked hand-in-hand with her local supplier, Trauth Dairy, to introduce a chocolate milk recipe with lower calories, after a new Ohio state law required all flavored milk in schools be 150 calories or less. Here’s her story:
In March 2010, our school district was at a decision point. A new Ohio law slated for implementation by 2014 would require that all flavored milk sold in schools to be 150 calories or less -- our current flavored milk contained 180 calories. After internally reviewing multiple studies that outlined the decline of overall milk consumption with the removal of flavored milk and consulting with our district’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, the city Health Department, and our region’s Nutrition Council, we understood the importance of keeping a flavored milk choice available at lunch. With almost 74% of our district’s students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, the dieticians and physicians of these groups were concerned about our students not getting the daily calcium, Vitamin D, and other essential nutrients that milk provides.
With the vision that we needed a flavored milk that met the new Ohio calorie requirement, we turned to our milk supplier and asked them for a new flavored milk formulation to meet the new regulations. Without this, our alternative would be to pull all flavored milk from our district menus. Lucky for us, our supplier, Trauth Dairy, had their finger on the pulse of the new law and was working on a solution to lower the calories of flavored milk and presented us with a new formulation. Trauth needed a school district willing to implement the new formulation and provide feedback on acceptance and improvement recommendations. Our two needs complemented each other and our district agreed to be the first school district in Ohio to serve their new product -- a 150 calorie, 1% chocolate milk with reduced sugars and no high fructose corn syrup. From the first day of the 2010-2011school year, our students liked and accepted the new chocolate milk. In fact, our overall milk consumption increased from the previous school year! Additionally, parents were happy with the new chocolate milk since it provided their children with the nutrients they need and less sugar and calories. In August 2011, Trauth Dairy offered us the 130 calorie fat-free version of the reduced sugar, no high fructose corn syrup chocolate milk.
Again, our students readily accepted the change and our milk consumption has again increased. With the lower calories and sugar content, we also put chocolate milk back on our breakfast menu this school year in both elementary and high schools. Not only is overall breakfast participation up by almost 8%, but so is our breakfast milk consumption! In January 2012, we added reimbursable meal vending machines in all of our high schools to help reach more students during the breakfast serving times. Our machines vend out a complete breakfast including a milk. We have seen our high school breakfast participation nearly double since placing the machines in our schools.