School principals attending the National Association of Secondary School Principals annual convention last week pledged their support to help deliver the message that milk is cool to kids.

The principals, along with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the fluid milk processors and the nation’s dairy producers have banded together to encourage kids to drink milk. The principals, as part of their commitment, each had milk mustache pictures taken to hang in their schools.

In the past, milk was a staple in school lunches and at snack time. However, today, kids ages 8 to 12 have increased their soda consumption by four times while milk intake has declined. Additionally, nearly 90 percent of teenage girls and 70 percent of teenage boys fall short of current calcium recommendations – 1,300 mg per day, or about four glasses of milk per day.

“We can all do something to help boost kids’ awareness of what they’re feeding their bodies,” says Margie Sepulveda, principal at Hewes Middle School in Tustin, Calif. “We owe it to our children to help them make smart eating choices, as well as to make healthy foods more available.”

That’s where milk vending machines and flavored milks in single-serve plastic containers come in to play. Schools in Boston, Miami, Austin, Omaha and Southern California have already installed milk vending machines as a part of a pilot program. Information on consumption and ideal locations will be collected and shared with other educators and milk promotion groups.

Producers, county dairy promotion boards and agri-businesses can also help children consume milk by helping schools purchase vending machines.

Dairy Management Inc., PRNewswire