Best Served Cold

Mar 15, 2016
strive for 35 logo

Checkoff-funded ‘Strive for 35’ program aims to increase milk consumption in schools

Milk lovers of all ages and tastes generally agree on one thing: It’s got to be cold. And when it comes to school kids, a checkoff-funded program by Dairy MAX helps ensure milk is served in its tastiest state. The initiative, dubbed ‘Strive for 35’ designed to represent an optimum temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit, is nothing new — it first launched many years ago nationally — but has experienced a rebirth of sorts under Dairy MAX’s leadership.

Lisa Jackson, director of school integrated marketing and communications for Dairy MAX, says when her department learned last year school districts were facing challenges with students either not choosing milk or taking it and throwing all or part of it away, they knew something had to be done.

“It was a huge concern for us,” she says. “But here's the thing: If the milk is warm it doesn't taste good and the kids are not going to drink it. I don't blame them.”

Unfortunately, 70 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys ages 6 to 11 don’t get enough calcium. Milk is one of the world’s richest sources of calcium and the school cafeteria can be a great place to make up that deficit — but only if it’s being served in a way that makes kids want to drink it.

She says even a few degrees can make a huge difference and the school marketing team was determined to help schools sell more milk by getting it to kids ice cold.

“We looked at it in two ways,” Jackson says. “One, is we needed to develop fun and exciting messaging to encourage students to choose milk. That's not what Strive for 35 is, but it's another piece of the puzzle. Then we considered, behind the cafeteria line, what educational materials, what reminders, what training can we do? We wanted to provide the schools with some fun flair to help the school cafeteria staff really take pride and take care in serving cold milk.”

They came up with both. For direct marketing to the students, Dairy MAX created materials featuring age-appropriate characters. For elementary school, it’s the superhero-themed “Mighty Milk,” while middle school students are targeted with an emoji-based campaign. Each comes with posters, banners, sneeze guard clings and other materials perfect for decking out the cafeteria.

To help encourage the cafeteria workers to Strive for 35, there’s an online pledge and a kit full of educational materials available to any school in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Contents include fact sheets, Power Point presentations and magnets and cooler clings reminding workers that ice cold milk not only tastes better but lasts longer. Additional effort will be placed to track milk sales at each participating school to see just how well the initiatives work.

Since the program has just recently launched, Jackson says it will be a while before it’s in every school district. But so far the feedback is overwhelmingly positive and she says they’re so proud of what it’s doing to increase milk consumption now — and for each student’s lifetime.