ARLINGTON, Va. — Today at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Winter Policy Conference, NASDA members amended the organization’s policy to support increasing access to milk, including flavored milk, in schools to ensure children’s nutritional needs are being met in school lunch programs.
NASDA’s new policy states, “NASDA believes milk in our schools is critical to child nutrition. No other food or beverage provides the unique combination of nutrients milk provides for children.”
NASDA CEO Ted McKinney reflected on the importance of this new policy and the significant role milk contributes to Americans and children’s nutritional needs.
“NASDA believes every school participating in the National School Lunch program should offer students at least one flavored milk option. NASDA opposes any effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or any other entity to deny children the opportunity to choose flavored milk for their school meals. Milk provides essential nutrients to growing children not found in any other beverage or food product,” McKinney said.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that individuals two years and older should consume two-to-three cups of dairy per day, depending on age and calorie level of dietary pattern. Although no age group meets this recommendation, children come the closest, largely due to consumption that happens at school, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.
“Ensuring that school-aged children have access to palatable options is a key component of ensuring that this progress towards meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are met,” McKinney said.
Flavored milk contains three out of the four nutrients’ kids are lacking. When flavored milk is removed as an option for school children, milk consumption drops an average of 35 percent. Flavored milk contributes only four percent of added sugar to children’s diets while still providing the critical nutrients that white milk does.
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories. NASDA enhances American food and agricultural communities through policy, partnerships and public engagement. To learn more about NASDA, please visit www.nasda.org.