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Milk and Dairy Foods’ Important Role in School Meal Programs

Key messaging + research summaries that highlight why dairy foods are critical to supporting the health of children + communities

Learn why milk + dairy is important in school meals.

Milk and Dairy Foods Support Children’s Optimal Growth and Development 


Milk and Dairy Foods Improve Diet Quality



Milk and Dairy Foods Support Nutrition Security 




1. Dror DK, Allen LH. Dairy product intake in children and adolescents in developed countries: trends, nutritional contribution, and a review of association with health outcomes. Nutr Rev. 2014;72(2):68-81. doi: 10.1111/nure.12078.


2. Dehghan M, Mente A, Rangarajan S et al. Association of dairy intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 21 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2018;392(10161):2288-2297. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31812-9


3. Hess JM, Cifelli CJ, Fulgoni Iii VL. Energy and nutrient intake of americans according to meeting current dairy recommendations. Nutrients. 2020 Sep 30;12(10):3006. doi: 10.3390/nu12103006


4. Krebs-Smith SM, Guenther PM, Subar AF et al. Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. J Nutr. 2010;140(10):1832-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.124826.


5. Quann EE, Fulgoni VL, Auestad N. Consuming the daily recommended amounts of dairy products would reduce the prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes in the United States: diet modeling study based on NHANES 2007–2010. Nutr J. 2015;14(90). doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0057-5.


6. Lott M, Callahan E, Welker Duffy E, Story M, Daniels S. Consensus statement: healthy beverage consumption in early childhood: recommendations from key national health and nutrition organizations. Healthy Eating Research website. https://healthyeatingresearch.org/research/consensus-statement-healthy-beverage-consumption-in-early-childhood-recommendations-from-key-national-health-and-nutrition-organizations/. Published September 2019. Accessed March 5, 2021.


7. Patel AI et al. The association of flavored milk consumption with milk and energy intak, and obesity: a systematic review. Preventative Medicine, 2018; 111:151-162. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.02.031


8. Committee on Nutrition. Snacks, sweetened beverages, added sugars, and schools. Pediatrics. 2015;135(3):575-583. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-3902


9. Bradley BJ, Greene AC. Do health and education agencies in the United States share responsibility for academic achievement and health? A review of 25 years of evidence about the relationship of adolescents’ academic achievement and health behaviors. J Adolesc Health. 2013;52(5):523-532. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.008  


10. Au LE, Gurzo K, Gosliner W, Webb KL, Crawford BC, Ritchie LD. Eating school meals daily is associated with healthier dietary intakes: The Healthy Communities Study. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(8):1474-1481.doi:10.1016/j.jand.2018.01.010


11. Fox MK, Gearan E. School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study. USDA website. https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-nutrition-and-meal-cost-study. Published April 23, 2019. Accessed March 5, 2021.


12. Ramsay SA, Bloch TD, Marriage B et al. Skipping breakfast is associated with lower diet quality in young US children. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72:548-56. DOI: 10.1038/s41430-018-0084-3


13. Junxiu L, Micha R, Li Y. Trends in food sources and diet quality among US children and adults, 2003-2018. JAMA. 2021;4(4):e215262. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.5262.

Why Is Milk an Important Part of School Meal Programs?

Megan Holdaway, RDN, discusses the important role of milk in school meal programs.

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Nutrition Security Is Vital to Supporting Children

There are many pathways to achieving nutrition security + school meals must be part of the solution.