by Pamela Accetta Smith
Experts offer insights into promoting milk intake in
According to leading dairy
promotion organizations National Dairy Council (NDC) and Dairy Management
Inc. (DMI), milk and other dairy products can and should be an important
part of the school experience.
The need to encourage milk and dairy consumption at
school is clear, given the documented gap between recommended and actual
dairy consumption among children, adolescents and teens, and the critical
relationship between dairy’s nutrient package and health, as noted at
, a Web site created by NDC and DMI. Studies
demonstrate that simple practices can help promote milk consumption in
children, and these strategies can be pursued by schools with confidence
that they are consistent with good overall health.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans underscores
the importance of dairy foods as a core part of a healthy diet for people
of all ages, including children. After all, milk is a nutrient-dense food
that is a good source of nine essential nutrients.
The guidelines recommend three cups of milk per day,
or an equivalent amount of other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese,
for most population groups, with three child-size servings of milk
recommended for children age 2 to 8, adding up to a total 16 ounces, or 2
cups, per day.
Unfortunately, says the NDC/DMI site, most
children’s consumption of dairy foods falls short of that currently
recommended, and intake of fluid milk has decreased in recent decades.
Without a doubt, it seems an overriding priority in children’s
nutrition should be increasing milk consumption overall to meet dietary
NDC and DMI say that while milk has historically been
an anchor of reimbursable school meals, opportunities exist to help close
the gap between current and recommended dairy intake through additional
milk offerings in schools. Also, promoting healthy dairy products —
not just in the cafeteria, but also through vending and a la carte sales
— is a good way to reduce consumption of low-nutrient beverages.
A School Milk Pilot Test (SMPT) sponsored by the NDC
and the School Nutrition Association (formerly American School Food Service
Association), involving more than 100,000 elementary and secondary school
students, found that several enhancements increased overall milk sales by
15 percent in elementary and 22 percent in secondary schools. Changes
included offering milk in appealing plastic resealable containers in
various sizes, flavor varieties, multiple merchandising locations (e.g.,
adding vending and a la carte options) and ice-cold refrigeration.
Findings from this test, says NDC, offer relevant
insight that may be applied as school districts develop the wellness
policies mandated in the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of
Through the studies of NDC and DMI, it seems to be
quite clear that the overall purpose of a milk program should be to
increase milk consumption among students to adequate levels. This goal can
be achieved through offering a variety of flavors, attractive packaging and
availability in multiple locations.
School Milk Update — A Roundtable Discussion
Comments from Peggy Biltz, chief executive officer,
Dairy Council of California; Camellia Patey, vice president of school
marketing, Dairy Management Inc.; and Rebecca Leinenbach, sales program
director, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc.
How has milk’s position changed in schools over
the past year?
Biltz: Milk’s overall position in schools
(via school breakfast and lunch programs, a la carte and vending machines)
has strengthened in the past year. In California, per California
legislation (SB 12 and 965), the place of fluid milk in all of the above
venue — both unflavored and flavored — is strong.
Milks, especially flavored milks, are well-accepted by
children because of their good taste. The fact that they are available in a
variety of fat levels (including fat-free and 1% fat) make them acceptable
in the majority of schools with food standards in place (either mandated by
school wellness policies or as complying with state regulations).
Several leading authorities in children’s health
have supported the important contributions milk and dairy products make in
children and adolescents’ diets — 2005 Dietary Guidelines for
Americans Committee and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to name two.
School wellness policies and state legislation places a high priority on
providing children with nutrient-rich choices. Therefore, foods like
fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free and lowfat milk and dairy
products are emphasized. Milk, in particular, is well-positioned as a
nutrient-rich food selection, given that it is a good source of three of
the five nutrients most likely deficient in children and adolescents’
diets — notably calcium.
A potential threat is a pending set of guidelines from
the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Clinton Foundation and AHA
partnership). One of the stipulations in the draft (non-binding) guidelines
is that beverages not exceed 8 ounces per serving. This limit would
eliminate many flavored milks as acceptable beverage offerings because the
added sugar content drives the calorie levels higher than this upper limit.
This would be true even for some fat-free flavored milks.
Patey: Milk has the unique position to be the only
food item required to be offered as part of the school lunch and breakfast
programs. But with all the other beverage options available, we want to
maximize milk consumption by offering kid-appealing varieties and
packaging. We have done this with the New Look of School Milk program that
features milk in resealable plastic bottles and a variety of flavors,
served cold and merchandised well.
Milk is an affordable, nutrient-dense wellness policy
solution, offering nine essential nutrients, including calcium; potassium;
phosphorous; protein; vitamins A, D and B12; riboflavin; and niacin (niacin equivalents). In fact, it
provides more calcium and protein per penny compared to any other food
served on school lunch menus.
Leinenbach: Milk’s position was more favorable
than ever before during the 2005-06 school year. Prairie Farms continued to
build upon the success of its 2004-05 St. Louis School Milk Test by
expanding its marketing program throughout the company’s network to
thousands of additional schools — which included improved package
design, new flavors and POS kits. Specifically, in the St. Louis metro
area, milk sales increased an astonishing 17 percent during the 2005-06
How have local and state regulations impacted
kids’ access to milk in schools? Can advancements be attributed
more to such regulations, or more to efforts by processors to redefine
their school milk programs?
Biltz: California’s legislation dictates the
At all levels
(elementary, middle, junior high and high school), milk (unflavored and
flavored) that is fat-free, 1% or 2% fat are allowed as part of the school
meals program and in a la carte, vending venues. mAs well, soy, rice and other similar
non-dairy “milks” are allowed. So, in general, access is
Some individual districts have placed more restrictive
parameters around the beverages they allow on school campuses, which serves
to limit some of the milk options (e.g., Los Angeles Unified School
District does not allow artificial sweeteners in any products).
Patey: Local and state regulations and efforts by
processors to redefine their school milk programs help students choose milk
more often. By limiting the sale of foods and beverages that provide little
or no nutritional value, local and state regulations ensure that students
have more access to nutrient-dense foods, such as lowfat and fat-free milk,
in the cafeteria and in school vending machines.
With the implementation of wellness policies at every
school participating in the federal meal program, milk is in a prime
position to help kids get the essential nutrients they need. The New Look
of School Milk has a look and taste kids love and many of the
important nutrients parents know they need, which allows nutritious milk to
compete with other kid-appealing products.
One of the best examples of processors’ efforts
to redefine their school milk programs is the New Look of School Milk,
which resulted from the School Milk Pilot Test conducted in 2001. In that
test, milk sales increased 18 percent through specific and straightforward
improvements: plastic packaging, one or more additional flavors, and better
refrigeration and merchandising. School districts have worked closely with
local processors and demonstrated the ability to afford the increased cost
and sustained successes associated with the New Look of School Milk.
Leinenbach:In most cases, local and state regulations have made milk
more accessible than ever before to students. The advancements can be attributed to
the nation as a whole collaborating in the interest of child welfare.
The number of children who are overweight and obese is increasing, which has prompted
a nationwide healthy eating campaign. Finally, sugary CSDs [carbonated soft drinks]
are being banned from schools. Prairie Farms intends to fill the void left behind by
the removal of soft drinks by offering vending, a la carte and other meal line programs
to our schools. While many beverage companies are being forced to reformulate their
products to align with healthier eating trends, Prairie Farms is proud to offer “
Milk — nature’s most perfect food” to students as a delicious, nutritious
option to soft drinks and other empty calorie beverages.
What has been the response from school officials and
foodservice personnel to the dairy industry’s efforts to improve its
milk programs? What response are they seeing from kids?
Patey: School officials and foodservice directors have
responded very positively to the dairy industry’s efforts to improve
its milk programs by embracing the New Look of School Milk. In fact, the New
Look of School Milk program is now in over 5,000 schools across the country
— serving 3 million students.
Directors state that the New Look of School Milk arrived
at the right time to address better student nutrition. The students are
drinking more milk and they think it is awesome!
Leinenbach:Overall, school officials and food service personnel have
embraced our efforts to improve milk programs, sometimes sanctioned
as the “
revolution” because of the drastic change from the way we used to do business with
schools. We have learned the importance of building and maintaining relationships with
key school officials and food service personnel. Last year, our
Michigan Division began publishing a newsletter specifically for this
group — “School MOOS — News you can use.”
It is an informative tool which includes legislative updates, continuing
and upcoming marketing programs, nutritional information and other milk
Students have responded very favorably to our marketing approach
which was designed to increase milk consumption through a variety of
techniques. As proven in our St. Louis Test and in the following school
year, our program was effective as consumption continues to increase among
students. We are looking forward to participating in two national promotions
targeting students during the 2006-07 school year. MilkPEP recently launched
Body By Milk to educate teens about milk’s role in maintaining a healthy
weight. Blue Ridge Paper Co. is reaching out to our students through an innovative
campaign called Milk Rocks!, which promotes the benefits of milk in paper board
cartons as a healthy alternative to soft drinks. Key components for both promotions
include interactive Web sites, prizes, in-school promotions, coordinating carton side
panels and more. We will bring the national programs to a local level
in all of our marketing areas.
What is the outlook for these efforts? Are they
expected to ever significantly impact historically flat or sagging fluid
Patey: By making kid-appealing school milk varieties
more widely available, we’re hoping to recapture kids and make them
life-long dairy consumers. Our goal is not only to get them to drink more
milk in the short term, but to teach them healthy habits that they’ll
carry with them into adulthood and pass along to their children, thereby
reversing the downward trend of fluid milk sales over time.
Leinenbach:We remain excited about the positive direction we and
the industry have taken toward improving milk offerings in schools. Continuation
of our efforts will have a significant and sustainable impact on flat or sagging
We hope to see dynamic changes in consumption among students and adults
alike in years to come.
Many of the new school milk efforts are employing
techniques normally used for retail consumers; which have been most
effective? Conversely, is there anything new coming out of these new
school efforts that might be used effectively at the retail level?
Patey: We know that kids choose milk more often when
it’s served cold in grab-and-go resealable plastic containers and
a variety of flavors. For example, some schools have had success
introducing unique flavors such as blueberry, mint chocolate and dulce de
leche. We also know it’s important to bring milk beyond the school
lunch or breakfast line to other places that are convenient for students,
such as vending, concessions and quick-service restaurants.
McDonald’s and Wendy’s utilized the
findings from the School Milk Pilot Test to initiate serving milk in
single-serve plastic containers. Burger King and Sonic have also joined the
effort to provide another outlet.
Retailers can also take a cue from school milk
learnings by continuing to offer cool and refreshing milk single-serve milk
in plastic containers and in a variety of flavors kids love. Placing milk
merchandising coolers in high-traffic areas such as the check-out aisle or
near the cereal aisle and other foods often associated with dairy also can
help keep dairy top-of-mind for customers.
Leinenbach: In-school sampling proved to be a very effective
technique with students.
Trial led to repeat purchases of our new milk flavors. Our lowfat vanilla and
strawberry milk were a proven success in schools so expansion into retail is a
natural progression. Also, we will be testing our new half-pint
“school” cartons in the retail environment. Our approach is twofold.
First, we want to build brand awareness among kids.
The contemporary graphics on our half-pint carton will help attract kids attention
as they shop with their parents, leading to purchase.
Second, by offering milk in a half-pint size, parents
will begin purchasing the product as
a nutritious, tasty, convenient and fun
snack for their family.
Kids are our shoppers of tomorrow and by winning them over at a
young age, we hope to have lifelong Prairie Farms customers.
Award acknowledges school milk consumption and
Leadership in School Nutrition (LISN) Award acknowledges and promotes
positive partnerships between dairy processors and schools through
innovations in milk programming using kid-appealing plastic packaging. The
results of these innovations have demonstrated an increase in milk
consumption among students. Nominations for the award are open to dairy
processors partnered with school districts to enhance the school milk
School districts may nominate their dairy processor
and processors may nominate their own partnerships with school districts
for the LISN Award. First prize will be $5,000 each for the processor and
school district; first runner-up winners receive $2,000 each and second
runner-up winners receive $1,000 each. Award winners will be featured on
the LISN Awards Web site and in Dairy Field magazine, and serve as models for future expansion
efforts between school districts and processors.
The honor is based on exceptional performance in two
areas: programming (40
percent of score including the evaluation of quality of products and
services introduced in schools, level of customer service provided by the
dairy processor and degree of marketing innovations by dairy processors and
schools; and results (60 percent of score including the evaluation of milk sales and
volume increases, milk product line expansion and school meal participation
All nominations must use the online application, with
written descriptions of programming innovations included. It is recommended
that three additional attachments that visually demonstrate the program be
submitted as file attachments, (e.g., a photo of promotional materials or
products). Nominees must provide backup documentation to support data, if
requested, on sales and meal participation increases.
Nominations are being accepted through December 1,
2006. Winners will be announced in January 2007.
See this month’s pull-out section for more
information about the LISN Awards.
Soda’s out, milk’s in
New campaign encourages teenagers to drink more of
that little white beverage.
The milk industry has launched a new campaign that is
taking a different approach to appeal to teenagers. With messages supported
by the American Dietetic Association and the School Nutrition Association,
Body By Milk is encouraging teens to grab lowfat milk instead of sugary
sodas because — along with staying active and eating right — it
may help them achieve a healthy weight.
This new campaign will educate teens about the impact
of what they drink by reaching them in multiple ways — online, in
school and in the magazines they read. International soccer star David
Beckham, American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, champion figure skater Sasha Cohen and
New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez are lending their faces — and white
upper lips — to the cause. They’re the first milk mustache
celebrities to appear in the new Body By Milk ads, which will be featured
in a range of teen-targeted publications from
Seventeen and Cosmo
Girl to Marvel
Comics and Sports
Illustrated for Kids.
“For too many teens, consumption of soft drinks
crowds out more nutritious beverages such as milk,” says Connie
Diekman, a dietician with the American Dietetic Association.
“Research has shown that parents are their children’s
number-one nutrition role models. That’s why parents need to be aware
of what their children are eating and drinking and make sure their teens
are consuming the recommended three servings of lowfat or fat-free
One of the key elements of the campaign is an online
destination for teens at www.bodybymilk.com
. This innovative Web site
immerses teen visitors into a journey that helps them explore the
consequences of what they drink. It also rewards them for making smart
choices and provides incentives to drink milk more often.
“We knew that we needed to break into a
teen’s world if we wanted our messages to break through,” says
Kurt Graetzer, chief executive officer of the Milk Processor Education
Program (MilkPEP), creators of Body By Milk and the popular milk mustache
“got milk?” campaign. “We couldn’t be preachy or
simply tell teens that milk was good for you. Our approach was to tell them
that milk could help give you the nutrients you need to look good inside
and out — that was the most motivating of all messages.”
Teens who log onto bodybymilk.com will not only learn
more about the healthy-body benefits of milk, they can win prizes if they
drink milk more often. By using the bar codes or expiration dates on milk
cartons as currency, teens can bid on prizes that include such popular teen
brands as Baby Phat and Adidas. School groups can bid on sports gear,
classroom supplies and music equipment. Visitors to the site can also view
behind-the-scenes footage of the latest milk mustache celebrities or see
some of their favorite milk-mustachioed stars in action, including David
Beckham playing soccer.
Additionally, the new Body By Milk campaign will reach
teenagers in school — where they spend the bulk of their day and eat
one, and often two, of their meals.
“We’re delighted to be part of this
campaign to promote milk in the school environment,” says Janey
Thornton of the School Nutrition Association. “One of our top
priorities nationwide is to encourage teens to develop healthy eating
habits, including choosing lowfat milk. We hope the new Body By Milk
materials in school cafeterias and classrooms will motivate kids to make
healthy food and beverage choices, including drinking more milk.”
Julie Buric, senior director of promotions for
Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), adds:
“Body by Milk is shaping up to be one of our best ever programs for
teens. We’re very excited that we’ll be able to reach teens
online, at schools, through mass media as well as at retailers through
To learn more about milk’s role in promoting a
healthy weight — and to experience the new innovative, interactive
Web site — visit bodybymilk.com. For more information about this
and other programs, also visit www.milkpep.org