IDFA: IOM recommendations limit dairy options in school meals

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Medicine (IOM) today released recommendations for updates to the nutrition and meal standards for school feeding programs. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) believes the recommendations for flavored milk and cheese are overly restrictive and could have negative effects on the nutritional health of American children.

While the report recommends that one cup of milk be served with every breakfast and lunch served in schools, it limits the type of milk to white and flavored skim milk and white one-percent lowfat milk. It also recommends allowing only lowfat versions of cheese and yogurt to limit the saturated fat content of school meals.

Dairy foods provide critical nutrients that help improve children’s overall diet quality and health, which is why they play such an important role in child nutrition programs. Government statistics show that kids, especially teenagers, are falling short of the recommended three daily servings of milk and dairy products, as well as the calcium they need to stay healthy.

According to the Milk Processor Education Program, 60% of flavored milk currently sold in cafeteria breakfast and lunch lines is one-percent milk. Skim flavored milk accounts for 33% of school sales.

IOM also called for adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to school cafeteria menus. The report notes that the cost for breakfast might increase by about 18%, mostly to cover the added fruit. Lunch costs could increase by about 4%.

The National School Breakfast Program feeds 10 million children a day, and the National School Lunch Program feeds more than 30 million students. Fluid milk is a required menu item for all federally funded school lunches and breakfasts. During the 2008 academic year, school purchases accounted for 5.9% of all domestic milk sales.

Schools also purchase cheese, yogurt and frozen juice pops to include in these meals.

A summary and the full report, “School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children,” are available here.