Why is School Milk so Important?
Studies show that well-nourished students do better in school. Students learn better and are more alert when they are well-fed with a balance of foods from the four food groups.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends that students aged 4–8 years old need 2 servings of milk and alternatives (such as cheese and yoghurt) daily and youths aged 9–13 years need 3–4 servings as part of a balanced diet. Milk and alternatives provide students with 15 essential nutrients, including bone-building calcium and the energy needed to perform their best. Yet recent studies show that:
• Half of children (age 6–12 years) did not consume any milk products in their lunch and 46% consumed various “sugared water” beverages that have little or no nutritional value.
• Drinking less milk than recommended can have both long and short-term effects on children’s health. In one study, girls with forearm fractures were more likely to have low mineral density throughout their bones, suggesting that they were not getting enough calcium. Only students who consumed milk at lunchtime met their daily calcium requirements.
• Early adolescence is a crucial time for bone development. Up to 45% of our lifetime bone mass is built and consolidated during the teen years. This is a crucial period for calcium and other bone building nutrients found in milk.
With faster-paced lifestyles, today more than ever, students need the nutritional benefits of milk at lunch to help them achieve optimum growth and learning. School Milk Programs can make a difference in students’ mental and physical developments. They also help schools fulfill their mandate to teach and support healthy lifestyles!