making a difference for dairy

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School Wellness Policies Should Include Dairy Products, IDFA Says

Apr 30, 2014

In comments filed Friday with the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, IDFA reinforced the importance of including dairy products, including flavored milk, in local school wellness policies. These policies were established under the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 and strengthened by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

FNS published a proposed rule in February that created a framework and guidelines for school districts to use when establishing local wellness policies. IDFA responded to the rule, explaining that milk, cheese and yogurt are valuable sources of important nutrients for children, especially protein, and that ice cream and frozen desserts are specially formulated for schools to provide a dairy-based treat with lower levels of fat, added sugar and calories.

“We urge USDA to encourage the continued availability of nutritionally beneficial dairy foods in schools, both as part of school meals and as competitive items,” the comments said. “Dairy products provide important nutrients to children, often nutrients of which they do not consume enough.”

IDFA called on USDA to support policies that align with the interim final rule regarding nutrition standards for competitive foods in schools. The rule, issued last June, set nutritional limits for saturated fat, trans fat, total sugars and calories that still allow a wide range of dairy products to be available to school kids. Read “Competitive Foods Rule to Allow Many Dairy Products” for a list of acceptable products.

The comments also mentioned the recent Cornell University finding that eliminating flavored milk in schools causes students to drink less milk, flavored or white, overall. This finding echoed a survey of schools and milk companies that found school milks sales in the 2012-13 school year had fallen by 5.1 percent, a drop of 23 million gallons.

“We urge USDA and school wellness policies not to discount the nutritional benefits of flavored milk,” IDFA said.

For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant, at amfoodnutrition@gmail.com.