Washington, D.C. (July 13, 2010)- A new study conducted by Prime Consulting and funded by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), creators of the national Milk Mustache “got milk?” campaign, reveals that eliminating chocolate and other flavored milks from school cafeteria menus results in a dramatic decrease in milk consumption. The drop in milk consumption also leads to a substantial reduction in nutrient intake by students that is not easy or affordable for schools to replace. MilkPEP has developed materials and resources for processors to utilize with school nutrition professionals that summarize the survey results and provide important facts about the role of flavored milk in school nutrition programs.
The study, which included 700 measurement days over three months at 58 elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., found that when flavored milk was not available, many children chose not to drink milk and missed out on the essential nutrients that milk provides. On days when only white milk was offered in the study schools, milk consumption decreased and average of 35 percent.
The study also reveals that replacing milk’s essential nutrients is difficult for schools. It would require three to four different food items to match the nutrients lost through the decrease in milk consumption; yet those foods add more calories and fat to students’ diets than milk and cost an incremental $2,200 to $4,600 more per 100 students annually.
“Processors should begin to address the attempts to remove flavored milk from their school customers by understanding the study results and speaking with school nutrition directors,” said Julie Buric, vice president of marketing with MilkPEP. “Many people assumed that students would adjust to the elimination of flavored milk and consume more white milk. However, the study shows us that in those schools that were in their second year of limited or no flavor policies, milk consumption did not recover. What’s most alarming is the drop in students’ intake of critical nutrients including calcium, vitamins A and D, potassium, magnesium and protein. The costs associated with replacing these nutrients are high for schools.”
MilkPEP has created several resources for dairy processors to communicate the results of the study, as well as the overall importance of flavored milk in schools. These materials are suitable for processors to share with school nutrition directors and other school professionals when addressing the issue with parents, colleagues and school administrators. Processors can access a fact sheet, brochure, PowerPoint presentation and parent handout at www.milkpep.org. All materials are free and easy to order or download.
More about the StudyThe new study was conducted in seven school districts across the country to quantify the impact of curtailing the availability of flavored milk in schools on children’s milk consumption and intakes of key shortfall nutrients. One of the largest studies of its kind, it is the first to measure the actual amount of milk discarded and estimate the amount of key nutrients lost.
“When flavored milk was not an option, many children wouldn’t take the white milk or if they did, they wouldn’t drink it,” said Linda Stoll, MPH, executive director of food services at Jeffco Public Schools in Jefferson County, Colo., who participated in study. “The white milk frequently got thrown away.”
All seven school districts experienced a consumption decline when flavors were not available. Overall, milk consumption dropped an average of 35 percent. Two districts found that milk consumption dropped by an average of 43 percent when only white milk was offered. In addition, five of the individual schools participating in the study saw consumption drop by more than 50 percent.
The study also revealed that the drop in consumption did not recover over a year’s 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 those days when they had flavored milk available.
The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation's milk processors, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The MilkPEP Board runs the national Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the health benefits of milk. For more information, go to www.milkpep.org. The tagline "got milk?"® was created for the California Milk Processor Board by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and is licensed by the national milk processor and dairy producer groups.