The United Dairy Industry of Michigan is making a difference in youth sports across the state. Currently, two grants are being offered to Michigan schools. The first is an in-kind donation of equipment to supply the foodservice needs and increase students’ dairy consumption. Secondly, is a grant of up to $2,000 in funding for the purchase of low-fat chocolate milk for sports teams.
So, is it Really Okay for Your Child to Drink Chocolate Milk?
If your child enjoys drinking chocolate milk, rest easy. Drinking real dairy milk, including chocolate milk, provides many health benefits to kids and can be a part of a healthy diet for them. In fact, taking away the option of flavored milk can actually do more harm than good if it means they stop drinking milk altogether.
Children drink more chocolate milk than white milk and consume more milk overall, with less milk waste. This is important considering that a child’s average intake of dairy is less than what it should be. Flavored milk contributes only a minor amount of added sugar to children’s diets. Soft drinks and non-carbonated sweetened beverages contribute more than 40% of the added sugars to the diets of children ages two to 18. Flavored milk contributes only about 4% of added sugars.
The Benefits Add Up!
Furthermore, flavored milk can help meet a child’s nutrient needs. It has the same nine essential nutrients found in white milk that is needed for good health. These nutrients include calcium and vitamin D, which contribute to good bone health. Since childhood and adolescence are a key time for bone growth, it’s especially important that kids get enough calcium and vitamin D during this time. However, research shows that kids older than two years fall short of these nutrients.
“It is so important for kids and teens to get adequate calcium and Vitamin D that we shouldn’t be worried about a little bit of sugar in chocolate milk. It’s a good trade in exchange for milk’s nutrient-rich package.”Robert Murray, MD, Professor, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University.
Giving Farmers a Helping Hand
Snow or shine, Michigan’s dairy farmers brave the elements to take exceptional care of their cows and calves. However, these dairy farmers are struggling with a market that’s changed drastically in the past 18 months. The loss of control by any small farm is keenly felt by the owners and employees. Farms are multi-generational, stretching back oftentimes four to five generations. Families have invested their lives and their returns in the farm and are sometimes left with little when forced to sell.
The loss is also felt in the community. Farms are the backbone of the rural economy in many communities. They employ people locally as well as buy supplies and pay for services locally. A rule of thumb is for every 300 cows, $1 million comes into the community from outside the area, most of that is then spent in the area.
Sometimes people ask how they can help our dairy farmers. The answer is simple; buy dairy products for your family. That is a win for your family, and a win for farmers.