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On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, Newton County School System (NCSS) students will join students in more than 40 countries across the world in celebrating the fourteenth annual “World School Milk Day.” This day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and is also promoted by the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) to recognize the nutritional benefits of drinking milk and consuming other dairy products for school-age children.

During the last week of September, signage will be posted on serving lines in the cafeteria highlighting dairy containing foods on the breakfast and lunch menus, the nutritional benefits of dairy, and the recommended number of cups (or servings) of dairy per day for children. In addition, posters and other decorations will be displayed in cafeterias, “World School Milk Day” pencils or stickers will be given out to students as they come through the lunch line on Wednesday, and dairy lesson plans from SUDIA will be available for teachers to use in their classrooms. 

                Milk is a beverage worth celebrating as it is a good source of nine important vitamins and minerals.  One 8-ounce glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein, a nutrient needed for numerous functions in the body including muscle repair, immune system functioning, and hormone building. A glass of milk also contains 11% of the Daily Value of potassium, a mineral needed to maintain fluid balance in the body, which may also help lower blood pressure.  Calcium and vitamin D, two of the more commonly recognized nutrients in milk, are essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones, which is critically important for children and adolescents as the majority of bone growth is occurring during these years.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans should aim to choose fat-free and low-fat milk and dairy products, which provide similar amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, with less fat, saturated fat, and calories than whole or 2% milk.

The USDA recommends that children ages four to eight years consume 2 ½ cups (or servings) of milk or dairy equivalents per day; children and adolescents ages nine years and older should aim for 3 cups (or servings) of dairy per day.  A serving of milk or yogurt is an 8- ounce cup; however, serving sizes for other dairy foods such as cheese, pudding, and ice cream vary according to the amount which is considered nutritionally equivalent to a cup of milk.  A serving of hard cheese, such as cheddar or Swiss, is 1 ½ ounces, or two slices, and a serving of processed cheese is 2 ounces. For more information visit “What Counts as a Cup in the Dairy Group” at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy-counts.html.  

For individuals with lactose intolerance, a lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soymilk can provide an alternative source of calcium.  Calcium is also found in non-dairy foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, beans, almonds, tortillas, tofu, canned sardines, and fortified orange juice; however, the calcium may not be as easily absorbable from some of these foods as from dairy foods.  Some individuals with lactose intolerance may be able to consume dairy foods in small amounts.

                For ideas on how to add more dairy to your diet, download the USDA’s 10 Tips Education Series Handout – “Got Your Dairy Today?” at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet5GotYourDairyToday.pdf

 

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References are available upon request. Please contact Brittany Bingeman, School Nutrition Program Wellness Coordinator for more information at bingeman.brittany@newton.k12.ga.us.