Fueling academic success with dairy
Schools are in a unique position to impact students’ food choices daily. School meal programs provide access to healthy and nutritious foods, such as non-fat and low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt have nine essential nutrients — including protein, calcium, potassium and vitamin D — to support growth, strong bones and muscles, healthy weight and heart health.
The Dairy Alliance works with schools and nutrition officials throughout the Southeast to promote dairy nutrition, enhance school menu options, address food insecurity, and promote physical activity. Studies show that well-nourished, physically active students do better at school and have fewer discipline problems. Here are some of the programs The Dairy Alliance provides.
Breakfast in the Classroom/Grab N’ Go
Breakfast is critical to childhood learning and health, yet many children start the school day hungry. Lack of awareness about school breakfast programs, late bus schedules, and stigmas associated with school breakfast are some of the reasons students don’t eat breakfast when it is served in the cafeteria. Only half of the low-income children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast through the federal School Breakfast Program are eating it.
Breakfast in the Classroom takes the traditional school breakfast approach and enhances it by moving it to the classroom. Breakfast is available to every child, no matter the family’s income level, making it possible for all children to participate. Grab N’ Go Breakfast takes the same concept and makes it mobile, offering convenient, portable breakfast foods to children as they leave buses and enter school. Breakfast After the Bell is another method of serving breakfast after the first period. Providing breakfast to students at school improves their concentration, alertness, comprehension, memory and learning.
The Dairy Alliance offers grants to schools seeking to establish or improve Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab N’ Go Breakfast, Breakfast After the Bell and other alternative breakfast programs. Grants can be used to purchase transportable coolers to keep cold foods cold, breakfast serving stations and other items to get students excited about eating breakfast. For information about alternative breakfast program grants, please contact our School Health and Wellness Director.
Breakfast Lab Recipes
Serving great-tasting, nutritious food is only part of the solution to gaining student acceptance of new menu items — you need to create excitement. National Dairy Council’s new dairy-based recipes offer breakfast menu solutions to meet new school meal regulations and make school breakfast a whole new experience. These large-yield recipes were created especially for cafeteria service, Grab N’ Go Breakfast and Breakfast in the Classroom. By showcasing them, you cannot only help increase school breakfast awareness and participation but can help all students start each day with the nutrition they need to help them succeed and show your school’s commitment to child health and wellness.
New Look of School Milk
School milk provides more calcium and protein per 100 calories — and more calcium per penny — than any other food served on school lunch menus. The New Look of School Milk program aims to make this nutrient-rich beverage an appealing alternative to high-sugar fruit juices and empty-calorie sodas and energy drinks by featuring ice-cold milk served in a variety of flavors in kid-friendly, recyclable plastic bottles.
Whether milk is offered on the meal line, in vending machines or à la carte, the program has been shown to increase milk sales and consumption and, in many schools, increase meal program participation. A pilot test of the New Look of School Milk program revealed:
- School milk consumption increased up to 37 percent.
- Milk sales increased 18 percent.
- More students were attracted to the meal line, with lunch participation in secondary schools increasing 5 percent.
Traditional milk cartons are often difficult to recycle. Schools across the Southeast are going green by switching to recyclable plastic milk bottles. Implementing a recycling program offers many benefits, including:
- Conserving resources: Recycling 2 million bottles (the amount that can be collected in a single school year from a district with 30 schools) can divert enough trash from a landfill to fill nearly 1,200 refrigerators.
- Helping the environment: Plastic bottle recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves landfill space.
- Saving money: Recycling may lower a school’s trash disposal cost by reducing trash volume between 9-20 percent, according to National Dairy Council pilot tests.
- Teaching children: Students learn to care for the environment and demonstrate social responsibility.
The Dairy Alliance offers tools to help you assess recycling and waste management practices for your school meal program, implement a recycling program, and communicate changes to staff and students. Please contact us for more information about recycling.
Smooth and Smart
Smooth and Smart, a grant program established by The Dairy Alliance in association with Fuel Up to Play 60, helps participating schools acquire industrial blenders and other equipment to integrate yogurt and fruit smoothies into school meals. The program increases overall dairy consumption at schools while treating students to healthy and enjoyable beverages that appeal to younger and older students alike.
There is good reason to jump on the yogurt smoothie bandwagon. Yogurt and fruit smoothies offer many of the same nutritional values as fat-free milk. A single smoothie provides significant daily levels of calcium (30 percent), vitamin D (25 percent) and protein (16 percent). Whenever a Fuel Up to Play 60 school purchases one of the designated industrial capacity blenders, Atlanta Fixture (our blender distributor) will make a contribution to GENYOUth, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with students, schools, communities, business partners and thought leaders to identify solutions that improve nutrition and physical activity.
Yogurt and fresh fruit make smoothies a smart dietary choice, no matter the meal. For more information about Smooth and Smart, contact us.
Strive for 35°
Kids will be the first to tell you — milk tastes best when served cold. Strive for 35° is a program that encourages school milk providers to keep milk chilled at the proper temperature. Temperature is a key component of the taste and appeal of milk for everyone, and should be served between 35° and 40° Fahrenheit.
Here are some tools to help school nutrition directors Strive for 35°:
- Cold Milk Fact Sheet: Learn why it’s important to Strive for 35° and quick tips to keep milk cold.
- Cold Milk Poster Cling: Hang this colorful, 8×5-inch poster in your cafeteria or office.
- Strive for 35˚ Survey: Be sure your milk is cold to ensure the best results. Fill out and print this survey and return it to your local The Dairy Alliance representative.
For your convenience, an online version of the Strive for 35˚ survey is available. Simply enter your responses and hit ‘Submit’ to share your answers with The Dairy Alliance.
While summer means fun and relaxation for many children, it is a time of hunger for many low-income students. Food insecurity increases as school meal programs break for the summer.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. The Dairy Alliance assists USDA in promoting the program at sites across the Southeast. The Dairy Alliance works with state leaders, nonprofit organizations and local communities to raise awareness for summer meals and help low-income children get the nutrition they need in the communities where they live. Through equipment grants, The Dairy Alliance assists program sponsors in keeping dairy foods safe, cold and delicious during transport to and at meal sites.
This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites. Help us ensure that no child goes hungry this summer by visiting https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/summer-food-summer-moves.
Summer Meals Promotional Resources
Many parents, students and teachers are unaware that a Summer Meals program may be available in their community. The Dairy Alliance has developed posters, fliers, yard signs, vehicle magnets, window clings and bilingual materials to help your school or community agency promote its Summer Meals efforts. All are available for download and printing (printer’s marks included for professional printing purposes).
Yo to Go
Designed to help schools enhance their menu and à la carte lineup with nutritious and appealing yogurt, Yo to Go is a great way to get students excited about eating healthy. No matter how they enjoy it, yogurt delivers. From single-serve yogurts and parfaits, to delicious smoothies and combo meals with yogurt, we have solutions for enhancing your school meal program.
Our School Health and Wellness staff is ready to assist you with ideas and resources. Grant funding is available for the purchase of dairy glass door merchandisers, commercial smoothie blenders, as well as insulated cooler bags and barrels. Our Yo to Go Merchandising Kit is available for funded schools to give an extra boost to your yogurt promotion.
Healthy Farming, Healthy You – Young Minds Inspired (YMI) Lesson Plans
Dairy farmers share much in common with the families who depend on them for fresh, wholesome dairy products. That’s what your students will discover with this free educational program from The Dairy Alliance, created in cooperation with the curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired (YMI).
These interactive standards-based lessons support the social studies, science, and health curriculum for grades 2-4, introducing students to the wide range of skills required on a dairy farm, showing them how dairy farmers help protect the environment, and reminding them (and their parents) that 2.5 to 3 cups of milk or another dairy food are essential for a balanced diet every day.
Students will also get to visit real dairy farms through a fun video whiteboard activity quiz. We hope that you will share this program with other teachers in your school. Although the materials are copyrighted, you may make as many copies as needed for educational purposes.