IDFA members Borden and Plains Dairy participated in the Austin, Tex., Child Nutrition Listening Sessions last week, discussing the necessity of milk as a nutritious option in schools and other nutrition programs. The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is holding a series of sessions across the country to gather input on its child nutrition programs prior to the 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs, which include the school lunch and breakfast programs.
Vince Varjabedian, food sales manager for Borden, testified that milk contains a complete package of nine essential nutrients and if guidelines too severely affect the palatability of milk products, it may put child nutrition at an even greater risk.
"It must taste good to children, otherwise they’ll cut back or stop consuming milk altogether," he told the panel.
Both members stressed that milk provides a nutritious alternative to sugary drinks for children in schools. In fact, both members highlighted that their companies are reformulating chocolate milk to provide a 150-calorie lowfat version, which still has the delicious taste kids enjoy.
"With all of the less-nutritious beverages that compete with milk, it is important that lowfat flavored milk retain its taste appeal while still minimizing calories," Plains Dairy said in its written statement.
To read the testimonies, click here.
Representatives from organizations seeking to eliminate dairy and animal-based foods from schools have attended these sessions and provided statements as well. To counter the messages of these anti-dairy advocates, it is vital that the USDA hear from dairy processors about the nutritional value that milk and dairy products contribute to the school lunch program.
IDFA encourages members to participate in upcoming USDA listening sessions and submit statements in the following cities:
Baltimore, Md. – August 6, 8:30 a.m. -2:00 p.m.
San Francisco, Calif. – August 6, 10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.
Atlanta, Ga. – August 20, 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Chicago, Ill. – September 10, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Denver, Colo. – September 11, 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
For more information and help preparing comments for the sessions, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To go to the USDA's Child Nutrition Reauthorization website, click here.