Healthy school meals including dairy are a top priority for many American voters, especially low-income parents

Healthy school meals including dairy are a top priority for many American voters, especially low-income parents


Washington – Nine out of 10 voters with children in public schools say making sure school meals are healthy and nutritious for children in their community is a priority, according to a new Morning Consult. National tracking survey Commissioned by the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA). Ninety-two percent of these parents also indicated that they believed that providing milk in school meals was important to a child’s daily nutritional intake, while nearly 8 in 10 parents supported including low-fat milk in public school meals. IDFA shares this information at the start of National School Lunch Week to remind policy makers of the primary place for dairy in school meals.

Low-income parents and those who participate in federal nutrition programs express a greater interest than the general population in making sure school meals are healthy. 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 meal It is consumed by children of American school age. 62 percent of parents who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), 56 percent of those who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and 50 percent earn less. More than $50,000 a year say making sure school meals are nutritious and healthy should be a higher priority. Consistently, all groups cite milk and dairy products as nutritious ingredients for a healthy meal.

“School meals are the bedrock of food security for our youth, especially among those most in need,” said Michael Dykes, DVM Director, IDFA President and CEO. “This survey confirms that parents understand the importance of school meals, that they believe healthy school meals should be a priority for policy makers, and that they understand the important role of dairy products such as milk in ensuring that their children get the nutrients they need for growth, development, healthy immune function, and wellness in general.”

While Federal Investment Record in School Meals Assist reduce of Child food security issues over the past three years, Participation in school meals decreased significantly At the height of the pandemic and in the following months: Total meals served across all federal child nutrition programs fell by nearly 2 billion in fiscal 2020 and nearly 1.5 billion remained below pre-pandemic levels in 2021, according to some estimates, although The USDA has yet to release full and complete participation data.

“It is very important at this time that policy makers, school feeding officials, food makers and parents come together to find ways to improve food security for our youth,” said Dykes. Nutritious dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese play a pivotal role in providing children with an excellent source of 13 essential nutrients, including three of the four nutrients identified as food components of importance to public health in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and with The DGA indicates that dairy products are not consumed by American children. Increased consumption of dairy products has been shown To improve overall participation in school meals. Our policy makers must explore every option to increase consumption of dairy products in favor of child nutrition.”

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 87 percent of voters with children in public schools think white milk is healthy for their children to consume at school, second only to water.
  • Nine out of ten voters with children in public schools (91%) found the following message about providing milk to children for public school meals in their communities compelling:
    • Milk contributes to strengthening and healthy bones, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Milk is the main source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium for American children between the ages of 2 and 18.”
  • Three-quarters of voters in federal nutrition programs (76%), SNAP participants (78%), and WIC participants (74%) who have children in public schools believe it is important to have low-fat milk options at school meals.
  • One-third of voters with children in public schools found whole milk (36%) and 2% milk (34%) to be the most nutritious. Only 4% think skim milk (4%) is the most nutritious.
  • Voters with children in public schools believe that low-fat flavored milk and fruit juice are equally healthy for children in their community to consume at school.

The survey was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IDFA. The national poll was conducted September 1-6, 2022, among a sample of 1,666 registered voters with children in public schools, including 709 voters who participate in at least one federal feeding program. The interviews were conducted online. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

To read the survey results, visit www.idfa.org/schoolmealspolling.

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The International Dairy Food Association (IDFA), in Washington, DC, represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.3 million jobs that generate $41.6 billion in direct wages and $753 billion in total economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-factory companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all at the forefront of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they account for 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold worldwide. Delicious, safe and nutritious dairy products offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits for people of all ages.

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