Voters in New York City and across the country widely support offering low-fat flavored milk in public school meals, according to a new Morning Consult national tracking poll commissioned by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). Parents in New York City and nationally nearly unanimously agree that making sure meals are healthy and nutritious for children is a top or important priority. When asked about including low-fat flavored milk in school meals, parents with kids in public schools in New York City and nationally were very supportive. In New York, 90% of voters with kids in public school support including low-fat flavored milk in public school meals. Nationally, 85% of parents feel the same—an overwhelming demonstration of support for maintaining nutritious milk options for kids in school. To read the full survey, visit www.idfa.org/schoolmilksurvey.
School meal participation in cities across the country has fallen since the start of the pandemic, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs. Meal participation in New York City schools fell by 300,000 students in 2020 and remains 75,000-80,000 students short of 2019 figures, according to reports from school meal professionals. As school districts look for opportunities to increase meal participation in schools across the country, IDFA is underscoring that when schools offer low-fat flavored milk options, school meal participation increases and children consume more of their meals and discard less food, getting more of the nutrients they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the School Nutrition Association, and the Institute of Medicine have all published statements that support the nutritive contributions of fat free flavored milk in school meals.
Weakened participation in school meals is a silent but growing crisis for our kids, said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “For children, school meals are by far the healthiest meal of the day. Offering more milk options in school plays an important role in the diet and nutrition of children because milk contains 13 essential nutrients that children need for growth, development, healthy immune function, and overall wellness. The low-fat flavored milk offered in schools today contains 50% less added sugar and 40 fewer calories than it did a decade ago with all the same nutrition benefits our kids need. Rather than trying to limit school milk options for kids, policymakers should follow the lead of parents, physicians, and school meals professionals who want to do what’s best for child nutrition.”
The poll was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IDFA. The national poll was conducted on February 16, 2022, among a sample of 750 parents. The New York City oversample was conducted between February 16-22, 2022, among a sample of 747 NYC voters. Interviews were conducted online and both surveys have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Other results of the poll include:
- 79% of New York City voters (parents and non-parents) and 85% of parents nationally support including low-fat flavored milk in public school meals.
- 90% of all parents in New York City with kids in public school strongly or somewhat support including low-fat flavored milk in school meals.
- 9 in 10 New York City voters with kids in public schools (88%) believe offering low-fat flavored milk options in school meals is very or somewhat important, whereas only 7 in 10 parents nationally (72%) hold the same views.
- 88% of parents nationally and 94% of parents in New York City agree that making sure public-school meals are healthy and nutritious for children in their community is a top or important priority.
- 88% of New York City voters and parents nationally eel the following message is convincing: Offering milk in school meals plays an important role in the diet and nutrition of children because milk contains 13 essential vitamins and nutrients that children need for growth, development, healthy immune function, and overall wellness.
Source: International Dairy Foods Association