AmericanFarm.com

Local, national dairy groups work to promote milk in schools

By CARYL VELISEK
Staff Writer

FREDERICK, Md. (Sept. 29, 2015) — At a recent meeting of the Maryland Dairy Industry Oversight and Advisory Council held at the Frederick County Health Department, representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association spoke about how the program is working to increase milk sales in schools and also increase the nutrition level for children.
John Chrisman, vice president of association’s School Marketing and Dairy Optimization program said a part of the effort is to drive increased sales and demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients and the other part is to increase consumption of nutritional products.
Breakfast coolers are provided for classrooms, breakfast carts are available in hallways, and parfait/smoothie programs are available for middle and high school students.
Mid-Atlantic works with the Maryland State Department of Education and their Share our Strength/No Kid Hungry Campaign breakfast and lunch programs and their after school meal programs.
“Federal regulations require fat-Free flavored milk, skim, or 1 percent white milk in schools,” he said.
There is a huge challenge, he noted, to get federal regulations changed to add fat to milk, and adding 1percent to flavored milk would greatly improve the taste and sales. In addition, milk served in plastic bottles instead of paper cartons, has increased school sales 17 to 20 percent.
Children who participate in the federal school meals programs drink more milk than non-participants, Leona Fitzgerald of the association’s regional representatives said.
The National Dairy Council and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association is working together to support the Maryland dairy industry and promote the sale of milk in schools and to the general public, Chrisman added.
NDC provides science-based information to a variety of stakeholders, collaborating with them to foster a healthier nation.
NDC’s partners include health and wellness professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia and industry.
The group was told that NDC participated in the first White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1940 and, today, works with farmers, their cooperatives and dairy companies to encourage the consumption of nutrient-rich, delicious dairy products through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
Its flagship program, “Fuel Up To Play 60,” demonstrates how better nutrition and physical activity can improve academic performance,
School meals are an important channel to nourish and educate young people and throughout history, milk has been a part of the meal.
For the greater part of a century, milk has been an integral part of school meals in the United States — first in lunches, later in breakfasts, and suppers as well as meals provided in summer programs.
School meals have changed in response to these new concerns as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 put an even stronger emphasis on nutrition standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks.
Schools requested and received milk with lower fat levels, while milk companies reformulated their flavored milk offerings to significantly reduce added-suger content.
To qualify for federal reimbursement, school meals and other USDA feeding programs must meet nutritional standards as well as other requirements.
In addition to milk being a required component of school meals since their inception, milk and milk products, including cheese and yogurt, have been a basic food group in the nation’s nutrition policy and the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act stipulated that the national school meal program standards must be consistent with the most recent dietary guidelines.