VIP Focus: What Your Students Drink can Make an Impact!

By the UDIM Nutrition Team
, Nov. 27, 2019


Many administrators would agree that nutrition can impact student learning in the classroom. Learn a few quick, easy strategies on how adding milk to a student’s meal can have a huge impact.*

Why Milk?

Milk is nutrient rich containing nine essential nutrients your body needs to get from food: calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, B5 and B12, riboflavin and niacin.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified four nutrients of public health concern—calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber. Americans are not consuming them at adequate levels and their low intakes are associated with health concerns. Milk is a good or excellent source of both calcium and vitamin D and is the #1 source of calcium in the American diet, so it’s relatively easy to meet the daily needs by increasing something we already consume.

Here is why this is a particular concern with kids. They are making their beverage choices at an early age and when they become teens, they begin experiencing very rapid bone growth, second only to infancy. Results of the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 26.7% of teens had not consumed milk in the last seven days. Meanwhile, only 17.5% of teens had consumed two or more servings of milk per day over that same time period.

With so many different things to drink, it’s more important than ever to make sure your students are getting the most out of their beverage choice. Here are a few tips that you can incorporate into your district.

  1. Prompt kids to make healthy choices using fun posters, cafeteria contests and attractive food displays.
  2. Schedule recess before lunch. Thirsty kids coming off the playground will drink more milk and have been shown to eat more of their lunch in general.
  3. Provide a variety of milks, including multiple flavors and fat-level choices, so that students can choose the milk they prefer to drink. Don’t forget—1% flavored milk is now allowed in all schools.
  4. Try Hot Chocolate Milk with older students or other new programs to generate excitement in the cafeteria.
  5. Extend the lunch period to give students enough time to eat what is on their plates. It takes longer to eat whole, fresh foods.
  6. Encourage milk with meals and water in between.
  7. Facilitate a healthy dialogue between the school food service department and the school store. Help to ensure that the school store is not competing with school meals and is smart-snack compliant.
  8. Make sure your school has a good wellness policy and be its champion!

* Are you concerned about lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy? Lactose intolerance is an inability of the body to digest lactose (the sugar found in milk) due to too little of an enzyme in the body called lactase. It is recommended that those with a lactose intolerance diagnosis consume lactose-free milk and low-lactose foods like yogurt and hard cheeses. A milk allergy is an immune system reaction to the protein in milk. Cow’s milk allergy is reported in about 2% of infants and young children and tends to be outgrown by five years of age. Those with a cow’s milk allergy should not consume dairy foods and consult with their physician to meet their nutritional needs. 

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

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