Home Industry News Economics White House Recognizes IDFA’s Healthy School Milk Commitment for Reducing Added Sugar in School Milk

White House Recognizes IDFA’s Healthy School Milk Commitment for Reducing Added Sugar in School Milk

The International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) Healthy School Milk Commitment was officially recognized at a special event organized by the White House recently to announce new commitments under the Biden-Harris administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. IDFA’s Healthy School Milk Commitment is a pledge by 37 school milk processors representing approximately 95% of the school milk volume in the United States to provide healthy, nutritious school milk options with no more than 10 grams of added sugar per 8 fluid ounce serving, fully consistent with the latest federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans and ahead of current school meal nutrition guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Commitment was expanded recently to include USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded program that provides healthy meals and snacks to up to 3.2 million low-income children and teens during the summer months when schools are out of session and access to consistent, daily nutrition is limited.

Just a handful of organizations and companies were invited to the White House to be recognized for their leadership on hunger, nutrition, and health. IDFA’s President and CEO, Michael Dykes, D.V.M., was joined by IDFA members HP Hood and Agri-Mark dairy cooperative. HP Hood is an iconic dairy company based in Massachusetts that provides a host of dairy products to consumers across the country, including school milk in the Northeastern United States. Hood team members Megan Delano, senior manager of regulatory affairs, and Linda Cote, senior manager of R&D, provided samples of their newly reformulated non-fat chocolate milk to White House and Biden-Harris administration officials. Hood’s school milk products are sourced in part from Agri-Mark dairy farms. Agri-Mark dairy cooperative board chair, James “Cricket” Jacquier, co-owner of Laurelbrook Farm in East Canaan, Conn., also joined the event.

“On behalf of America’s school milk processors, we are proud to be recognized by the White House and Biden-Harris administration for our industry’s proactive efforts to reduce added sugar in school milk to ensure children continue to enjoy milk’ 13 essential nutrients in a product they love,” said Dykes. “The Healthy School Milk Commitment ensures all children, especially our most vulnerable, have access to nutritious milk options throughout the year with less added sugar and fewer calories. School milk is the leading source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium for American children. As the Biden-Harris administration recognized today, IDFA and our nation’s school milk processors have stepped up in a big way to provide wholesome and healthy milk options with 13 essential nutrients to children all year around.”

“Hood’s longstanding partnership with local farm families allows us to bring nutritious milk products that taste great to schools across the Northeast with the highest degree of freshness and safety,” said Lynne Bohan, group vice president, communications and government affairs for HP Hood. “The new chocolate milk we debuted today for schools exemplifies Hood’s ongoing commitment to quality, innovation, and nutrition. We’re grateful to participate in today’s event at the White House as part of the Healthy School Milk Commitment, and we look forward to continue bringing Hood’s highly nutritious dairy products to people of all ages for many years to come.”

“Dairy farmers devote their lives to producing fresh, wholesome, and local milk for our communities,” said Jacquier. “That dedication begins on the farm and is continued by our processor partners like HP Hood who have created a nutritious, delicious product that students want to drink. This new product checks the box of exceeding nutritional standards and is kid-approved. Students have always reached for flavored milk, and now they’ll have even more nutritious choices thanks to the Healthy School Milk Commitment. We applaud the dairy industry’s efforts to reduce added sugars proactively and voluntarily in school milk.”

More than two-thirds of milk consumed by children in school today is flavored, such as chocolate and strawberry milk. Therefore, the reductions in sugar and calories achieved by the Healthy School Milk Commitment are critical to improving child nutrition. USDA’s school meals program—including school breakfast and lunch—serves more than 30 million children every day with nutritious meals. According to a 16-year study conducted by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, school meals are the most nutritious meals consumed by American school-aged children. USDA’s Summer Food Service Program brings the benefits of school meals to as many as 3.2 million food-insecure children in the summer months when school is out of session and access to healthy meals is a challenge for low-income families. School milk offers 13 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D, and potassium, and the is the number-one source of protein, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium for children ages 2-18. A plethora of scientific literature demonstrates that consumption of cow’s milk provides children with better bone health, a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, and a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Children who drink flavored milk consume more milk and therefore have significantly higher intakes of vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients.

According to surveys among school milk processors conducted by IDFA and Prime Consulting, the level of added sugars in flavored milk products has declined by 55% between 2006 and 2023, from 16.7 grams per 8-ounce serving in 2006 to 7.5 grams of added sugar per serving in 2023 as milk processors signed on to IDFA’s Healthy School Milk Commitment and began reformulating products in advance of the 2025 school year. Calories associated with flavored milk have declined during that same period, as well, from 166 to 125 calories per 8-ounce serving, for a reduction of 41 calories. Meanwhile, parents of school-age children continue to be big supporters of offering flavored milk in schools today. In a survey by Morning Consult commissioned by IDFA conducted between June 9-11, 2023 among a sample of 441 parents with children in public schools, 89% agree that non-fat or low-fat flavored milk should remain an option in public school meals.

Please visit www.healthyschoolmilk.org for more information.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.2 million jobs that generate $49 billion in direct wages and $794 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent most of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.

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