Dairy farmers across the country are working to provide healthier milk options for school lunches. It’s part of a new pledge the dairy industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture made Wednesday at Dodson Elementary School in Canton Township.
USDA, Dairy companies launch commitment to provide schools with healthier milk
USDA, Dairy companies launch commitment to provide schools with healthier milk

Nearly 34 million kids across the country eat lunch at school every day. For many, it’s the healthiest meal they’ll get.

“That’s even part of our strategic plan, to remember what we are doing for nutritious meals,” said Kristen Hennessey, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Director of Nutrition Services.

A major component of that is simply providing milk to students. Hennessey said sometimes it is a challenge getting younger kids to drink milk at lunch.

“It’s relearning. It’s introducing them back to milk,” she said.

USDA, Dairy companies launch commitment to provide schools with healthier milk
USDA, Dairy companies launch commitment to provide schools with healthier milk

Hennessey said most kids are drinking flavored milk, like chocolate and strawberry, to meet those needs. Now 37 milk companies are joining the “healthy school milk commitment.” It’s a pledge from dairy companies to provide more nutritious milk options to schools. This would reduce calories and added sugar in flavored milk.

“The proactive path is to recognize we need to make changes and the times are changing, the information is changing. We need to make a change and we need to be proactive,” said Michael Dykes, International Dairy Food Association CEO.

Officials said this program is important because studies show kids aren’t getting enough nutrients.

“This really shows us if you do it bit by bit, as it’s been done, we can still engage the kids and it can still be good and nutritious for them,” said Hennessey.

This commitment goes with the new USDA dietary guidelines for everyone.

“It’s recommended we reduce our overall added sugar in our diet, it really leaned into saying that’s important for all Americans to do,” said Stacy Dean, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.

The USDA is working on changing school meal guidelines. Those guidelines are expected to be in place by the fall of 2025.

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