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The School Lunch Line Gets a Healthy Makeover

School lunches have some new healthy choices including: no fat and less sugar in chocolate milk, more whole grain foods, and more fruits and veggies.

Kids typically get about 30% to 50% of their calories while at school, and the good news is this year, school cafeterias are serving more whole grains and fresh vegetables along with flavored milk with fewer calories and less added sugar than in the past. On average, school chocolate milk is projected to have just 31 calories more than white milk and 38% less added sugar, the result of ongoing work by milk processors across the country.

Many of these changes, including more attention to sodium and calories, are in line with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which also identifies calcium, vitamin D and potassium as “nutrients of concern” that most kids fail to get enough of. Milk, whether white or flavored, contains the same nine essential nutrients, including these key nutrients many kids are lacking.

Not surprisingly, research suggests lowfat chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools. When chocolate milk is not offered, kids drink less milk, and get fewer essential nutrients. As a registered dietitian, I recognize that school milk is key to helping kids maintain and even increase their milk consumption during the critical growing years. Offering lowfat flavored milk in schools means kids are getting closer to meeting their daily recommended serving, while getting the same nine essential nutrients found in white milk. In fact, studies show that children who drink flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs, do not consume more added sugar or fat, and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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