Schools are in a unique position to impact children’s food choices – including their milk intake-because many rely on school meals as their major source of nourishment, with over 32 million meals served daily. 1
Lowfat or fat free white milk or fat free flavored milk is allowed with each school lunch, according to the updated USDA school lunch regulations . The goal is to ensure students have healthful lunches each day, and milk is a nutritious part of the school meal. In fact, every 8-ounce serving of milk – white or flavored – pours on 9 essential nutrients that pack a huge nutritional punch.
Get the Facts
- Milk is the #1 food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, nutrients identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as lacking in children’s diets. 2
- Kids who eat school lunch drink more milk than those who don’t. In fact, one study found that only those children drinking milk at lunch met their recommended daily intake of calcium. 3
- Nearly 65% of the milk children choose to drink in the National School Lunch Program is flavored milk. 4 But when children don’t drink milk at lunch at school, it's nearly impossible for them to meet their needs for some of these essentials the rest of the day. 5
- Many kids are still falling short on important nutrients they need, including some key nutrients in milk. In fact, 8 out of 10 Americans are falling short on the recommended servings of milk each day. 6
- Milk is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin and phosphorus, and a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and niacin. 7
- Studies show that children who drink flavored milk drink more milk overall, meet more of their nutrient needs and do not consume more added sugars or fat, and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers. 5,8
- 9 out of 10 teen girls and 7 out of 10 teen boys don't get the calcium they need. More than half of kids and teens don't get enough phosphorus. 9
- Milk drinkers tend to have better quality diets that are richer in essential nutrients compared to non-milk drinkers. 5
- On average, today's fat free flavored milk in schools has 122 calories per serving and sugars have been cut dramatically by 45% in the past six years. 10
- Flavored milk is the most popular choice in school lunch rooms and research suggests students drink less milk and get fewer nutrients when it is not offered – contributing to the detrimental decline in milk intake. 11
- Rethink the drink – There’s virtually no nutritional comparison to milk. Click here to see how milk stacks up to other beverage options and learn why milk is truly a nutrient powerhouse.
- A study found eliminating flavored milk from elementary schools resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption (35%), which means many children will miss out on essential nutrients that milk provides. 12
- Many leading health and nutrition organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other groups agree that flavored milk is a positive trade-off for soft drinks, which are the primary source of added sugars in children’s diets. 13
1. USDA FNS. Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, 2012.
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program. 2012.
3. Johnson RK, et al. The association between noontime beverage consumption and the diet quality of school-aged children. J of Child Nutr and Mgmt . 1998;2:95-100.
4. 2012-2013 School Milk Product Profile, MilkPEP School Channel Survey, conducted by Prime Consulting Group, July, 2013. Reponses were received from processors who collectively serve 63% of all K-12 public schools. The MilkPEP Annual School Channel Survey is a joint project of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the National Dairy Council and the School Nutrition Association.
5. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 26.
6. Murphy MM, et al. Drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in U.S. children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc . 2008;108:631-639.
7. Krebs-Smith SM, Guenther PM, Subar AF, Kickpatrick SI, Dodd KW. Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. Journal of Nutrition . 2010;140:1832-1838.
8. Johnson RK, et al. The nutritional consequences of flavored milk consumption by school-aged children and adolescents in the Unites States. J Am Diet Assoc . 2002;102:853-856.
9. Moshfegh A, et al. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2001-2002: Usual nutrient intakes from food compared to dietary reference intakes. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2005.
10. 2013 School Milk Product Profile, MilkPEP School Channel Survey, conducted by Prime Consulting Group, July, 2012. Responses were received from processors who collectively serve 62% of all K-12 public schools. The MilkPEP Annual School Channel Survey is a joint project of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the National Dairy Council and the School Nutrition Association.
11. Patterson J, Saidel M. The removal of flavored milk in schools results in a reduction in total milk purchases in all grades, K-12. J Am Diet Assoc . 2009;109(9):A97.
12. Quann E, Adams D. Impact on Milk Consumption and Nutrient Intakes From Eliminating Flavored Milk in Elementary Schools. Nutrition Today . 2013;48:127-134.
13. Science Supports the Important Role of Milk, including Flavored Milk, in Children’s Nutrition. November, 2009.