High school kids are drinking more milk


Milk consumption is down across the nation.

So, the dairy industry has had to get creative when it comes to finding ways to get people to drink more milk.

And kids are drinking more milk in high schools throughout North Dakota, in part because milk is being disguised as coffee.

“Normally, they’re coming in off the streets with Caribou, Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, that are gonna be not quite as nutritious as our coffees are,” says Michelle Wagner, BPS Child Nutrition Program Director.

The “Red, White, and Brew” at Century High School offers coffees, lattes or smoothies — all with an added eight-ounce shot of healthy.

“It’s eight ounces of milk is what’s served in a 12-ounce serving,” says Char Heer, Program Director for the Midwest Dairy Council.

She’s also a dietitian who knows what kids need.

“Particularly for school-aged children, it’s a vital time for growing and there are some major protein and nutrients needed by that age group from dairy,” says Heer.

The coffee bars are popping up in high schools across the state, available thru funding, in part, from the dairy council.

It’s a way for kids to drink milk when they wouldn’t otherwise.

“So, by having a latte, they’re essentially having their serving of milk in the morning,” Heer says.

The coffee bars have also created another unexpected health benefit.

“What we’ve noticed with opening up the coffee shop here at Century is breakfast participation almost tripled,” says Wagner.

It’s a sight to behold for this lunch lady, who says this is working.

“I’m also a dietitian, so I firmly believe in having a good start to the day and, without breakfast, you can’t learn, you can’t think, you’re not ready to be on your game for school,” Wagner says.

“What we do know, dairy farmers work hard 365 days a year and are dedicated to providing a nutrient-rich, wholesome and safe product every day for us to enjoy,” says Heer.

And with kids now eating breakfast and now drinking milk, there’s something else they have noticed.

“Just with the addition of having a coffee shop, we’ve purchased an extra 500 gallons of milk from our local dairy farmers just for coffee in the course of one school year,” says Wagner.

In just the course of one school year.

Both Wagner and Heer say it’s a win-win for the dairy industry and the kids.

Wagner, along with the Lynelle Johnson, Williston’s Child nutrition program director, will be presenting on the coffee shop successes as well as implementation at the National School Nutrition Conference in St. Louis.

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