Do Students Like 1% Flavored Milk Better?
My school nutrition mantra has been the same for years: It is only nutrition when students eat or drink it. Like adults, students eat with their eyes first. So to ensure they get the fuel they need to power their day, school meals must be presented in appealing and appetizing ways. Meals must also taste great so that students will eat them and get the benefits of all the important nutrients they need to grow, thrive and succeed.
Taste has been an important part of the flavored milk discussion in schools. When schools were required to serve only fat-free flavored milk with school meals, milk consumption drastically declined. While students seemed to adjust to the fat-free flavored milk in some areas, others did not – avoiding the fat-free milk varieties or throwing away partially consumed containers. But now, thanks to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1% flavored milk may be a solution to fix that.
When USDA began allowing flexibility in milk options, many districts immediately began to explore adding 1% (low-fat) flavored milk back to their menus. In Aldine ISD, located in Texas, this involved both informal discussions and holding taste tests of 1% flavored milk versus fat-free flavored milk with student customers. According to Executive Director Dana Sheffield the results were definitive: “Hands down, the students liked the flavor of the 1% much better.”
Irving ISD’s Director of Food and Nutrition Services Olga Rosenberger, another district in Texas, also understands how much taste matters to students. Her customers had regularly complained about the taste of fat-free flavored milk, but since reintroducing 1% flavored milk, she has not had a single complaint. Milk sales are up and waste is down – exactly what nutrition professionals want to see, especially in a district where many students eat a majority of their meals at school.
Have you considered adding 1% flavored milk back to your district’s menus? Talking with your student customers and getting their feedback is an important part of this decision. If you would like help planning and executing taste tests in your schools, contact your local Dairy MAX School Wellness Consultant.