Back-to-School Menus 🐄 5 Ways to Add Milk

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USDA - United States Department of Agriculture

5 Ways to Add Milk to Your

Back-to-School Menus

1. Source Local Milk

Milk is local, fresh, and always in season! Fluid milk is the second most frequently purchased local item by schools, according to the 2019 Farm to School Census. Thompson Public Schools in Connecticut partnered with Fort Hills Dairy Farm and other partners to expand their breakfast program offerings, and participation nearly doubled. Join the trend and support your local economy!


2. Make Sure Milk is Cold

Having the right equipment to ensure that milk is served cold is important for food safety. Kids prefer cold milk and are more likely to consume milk when it is nice and cold. Milk should be stored at 41 ⁰F or below. Schools in need of equipment, such as milk coolers and milk dispensers, can ask their State agency about competitively awarded sub-grants for schools to purchase equipment (>$1,000 per item).

Milk Cooler

3. Ensure Equitable Access to Milk's Nutrients

Students with lactose intolerance can experience discomfort when consuming regular milk and, as a result, not drink the milk offered at school. Certain racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanics/Latinxs, Blacks/African Americans, Asian, and American Indian populations, are more likely to be lactose intolerant. Schools may offer lactose-free and lactose-reduced low-fat and fat-free milk without the need of a written statement from a licensed medical authority or a parent or guardian. Lactose-free milk is milk without the lactose, so it provides the same 13 essential nutrients in each serving. Consider including information about the availability of lactose-free and lactose-reduced milk on your school nutrition website and menu in the languages that are spoken by parents and guardians of students at your school.

lactose free

4. Encourage Milk

Schools are using innovative methods, such as “smoothie and hot chocolate days” to offer milk in fun ways, particularly for older students. Smoothies that include 1 cup of milk per serving meet the milk requirement for a school meal. Learn more in Team Nutrition's Offering Smoothies as Part of Reimbursable School Meals. Warming chocolate milk and offering it at breakfast is also popular in the fall. Los Nietos School District in California warms the milk in stainless steel containers at 300 degrees for 10 minutes and keeps them in a food warmer until serving. Even though flavored milk includes added sugars, schools can balance these offerings by limiting other foods containing added sugars during the week. The Fuel Up To Play 60 program created by the National Football League (NFL) and National Dairy Council (NDC) includes a number of milk educational resources for K-12 schools.

Smoothie in Blender

5. Plan for a Dynamic Food Environment

Schools facing milk supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 may use the regulatory authority found in Federal procurement regulations at 2 CFR 200.320(c)(3), which allows operators to use the emergency noncompetitive proposal procurement method to negotiate a new one-year contract for school year 2021-2022. There are also State waivers for meal pattern flexibilities including low-fat flavored milk. Schools should continue to work with their State agencies if issues arise in their milk procurement process. Learn more here.

School Nutrition Professional

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