GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — That old saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” is correct. Sadly, too many children start their school day on an empty stomach. Whether they miss this important meal simply due to a hectic schedule or because there is not enough to eat at home, skipping breakfast comes at a high price for all students – research shows this habit negatively impacts academic performance.
As school nutrition departments strive to compete with outside food and beverage establishments, coffee and smoothie bars have steadily grown in popularity across the country. Coffee shops have become a regular part of life for today’s teenagers, and you can often find them hanging outside their favorite local shops. So why not keep them on campus to enjoy their favorite beverages? Adding coffee and smoothies to innovative breakfast programs is increasing student participation in breakfast while helping them gain the vital nutrition to fuel student success while also elevating a school’s nutrition program. Plus, bringing this environment inside the school building can help increase school revenue and milk consumption.
“Through our Nutrition NOW program, Dairy MAX is working with school districts to feed more students through innovative breakfast programs designed to increase dairy consumption and access to good nutrition,” says Julie Stefko, M.S., director of school marketing, sales and operations at Dairy MAX.
USDA allows sales of coffee and espresso beverages in high schools up to 12 ounces and under 60 calories as part of the Smart Snacks in School program. Coffee contains essential nutrients, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin. So along with being popular, combined with the powerhouse of milk, coffee beverages can be nutritious.
Smoothies are made with yogurt, milk, fruit and, on occasion, other healthful add-ins and offer a variety of health benefits for growing kids. Both items can count for multiple food components and can be incorporated during breakfast, lunch, or supper service as a part of a reimbursable meal.
To expand milk consumption in districts, Dairy MAX has partnered with To Taste, an organization founded by two RDNs/chefs with a focus on K-12 culinary nutrition. Together they developed nine milk-based coffee recipes, which include 8 oz of milk and 16 smoothie recipes containing one or two servings of dairy.
“It’s rewarding to see growing interest across the region for our Dairy MAX branded smoothie and coffee recipes. Our recipes are unique and designed specifically to serve the interest of all our stakeholders including child nutritionists, students and our farmers. Dairy-based smoothies and coffee drinks keep school meals relevant and attract more customers, and in turn, more customers mean higher revenue for child nutrition programs and increased dairy sales for farmers,” said Holly Stojanik, RDN, LD, Dairy MAX school marketing territory manager.
The majority of schools that offer school lunch also offer school breakfast,however, it is often underutilized by students. In fact, the number of students participating in breakfast is just half of those participating in lunch, so there is a significant opportunity to impact the growth of dairy and child nutrition programs while also increasing student access to the nutrition they need to be successful.