9 Ways to Promote Milk Consumption with School Meals

Amanda Aldred, RD, SNS| View Author Bio
Kids smiling with milk

One of our most frequently asked questions is “How do I get my students to drink more milk?” Let’s start out by answering the question, why is it important that kids drink milk?

Milk is nutrient-rich, containing 13 essential nutrients including, protein, zinc, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin D, which contribute to healthy immune function.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have identified four nutrients of public health concern: calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber. Americans are not consuming them at adequate levels, and their low intakes are associated with health concerns. Milk is the number one food source for both children and adults for three of these: calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.

Results of the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 26.7% of teens had not consumed milk in the last 7 days. Meanwhile, only 17.5% of teens had consumed two or more servings of milk per day over that same time period. This number has been steadily decreasing since 1999 (33.6%), with a sharp drop since 2013 (25.9%).

With so many different things to drink, it’s more important than ever to make sure your students are getting the most out of their beverage choice. We’ve put together a list, Nine Great Ways to Promote Milk in Schools, to help get you started!

Our 9 Tips:

  • Serve Ice Cold Milk. Milk tastes best when it’s under 40°. Strive to serve milk at 35°F. 
  • Increase milk’s appeal by displaying it in attractive ways. Use glass door merchandisers, open air coolers, and/or portable rolling coolers to display milk in attractive ways in multiple locations.
  • Provide a variety of milks, including multiple flavors and fat level choices, so that students can choose the milk they prefer to drink. Don’t forget 1% flavored milk is now allowed in all schools.
  • Try Hot Chocolate Milk with older students! Or talk to your milk processor about offering milk in resealable plastic containers.
  • Schedule recess before lunch. Thirsty kids coming off the playground will drink more milk and have been shown to eat more of their lunch in general.
  • Encourage milk with meals and water in between.
  • Promote milk consumption with prizes for those who take and drink milk with meals.
  • Engage with students through milk-themed activities. Challenge students to consume three servings of milk a day over a period of a week or several weeks. See our dairy education promotion guides for inspiration.
  • Teach your students about our local dairy farms, where milk comes from, and how many different foods can be made from milk. Milk is local, fresh, and always in season!

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