Encouraging Consumption
by Pamela Accetta Smith
Experts offer insights into promoting milk intake in schools.  

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 www.nutritionexplorations.org, 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 recommendations.
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 2004.
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.
For an in-depth look at school milk consumption and programming, visit www.nutritionexplorations.org.
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 post-test period.
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 following:
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 very good.
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 facts.

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 sales?
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 fluid sales. 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.
Honoring Progress
Award acknowledges school milk consumption and programming.
The 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 experience.
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 growth).
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.
For more on the LISN Award, visit www.lisn-awards.com or www.nutritionexplorations.org.
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 milk.”
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 their moms.”
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.