- A large study involving seven school districts across the country (58 elementary and secondary schools) found that when students did not have the option of flavored milk, milk consumption dropped by an average of 35 percent, along with a substantial reduction in nutrients – which are not easy or affordable to replace.
- The same study found the drop in consumption did not recover over time. Even the 40 schools that were in their second year of a limited-or no-flavors policy did not see students moving to white milk. On average, students at these schools drank 37 percent less milk compared to when they had flavored milk available every school day.
- Some school districts have even reversed their previous decision and reinstated flavored milk due to the decline in milk consumption.
Nutrients Down the Drain
If milk is not consumed with the noon meal, it’s nearly impossible for children to meet their needs for calcium, vitamin D and potassium – which are already identified by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as limited in children’s diets. Milk is the #1 food source of these essential nutrients in the American diet.
"It's important for parents to recognize the implications of removing chocolate milk from school meals," said Sandra Ford, SNS, School Nutrition Association President-Elect. "Federal nutrition standards require every school meal to be served with nutrient-rich milk. If the milk choices don’t include flavored milk, many kids will chose to go without milk altogether, and we'll be missing an opportunity provide the nutrients that help them do their best. As schools work hard to cut calories from their menus - let's make sure we aren't cutting critical nutrients from our students’ diets too."
Flavored Milk Contributions
Studies show that children who drink flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs, do not consume more added sugar or fat, and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers. Flavored milk drinkers also drink fewer sodas and fruits drinks.
“Most kids are far from the recommended three servings of dairy a day for kids nine and older, and flavored milk drinkers drink more milk, so I think flavored milk is an acceptable strategy to help us increase milk consumption,” said pediatrician Tanya Altmann, M.D. “Sure, I wish kids drank more white milk, and that’s what I encourage at home, but if they’re drinking milk with their meals at lunch and it happens to have 31 more calories than the unflavored version, I’m okay with that. What’s at risk is that children will miss out on milk’s nine essential nutrients if they won’t drink the options provided.”