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Getting Kids off to the Right Start with Water and Milk!

Posted by Cindy Long, Child Nutrition Director, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service in Initiatives Food and Nutrition
Apr 14, 2011

When the First Lady kicked off the Let’s Move! initiative last year, she said that her primary goal is to end childhood obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gets to the heart of this effort by helping schools, parents, and communities make health and nutrition a priority for kids.  Among the law’s many reforms, schools that participate in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school lunch program will have to make drinking water available for free to students in the cafeteria during lunch.  With this change we want to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids.

Schools must also offer at least two choices of low fat or fat free milk.  These changes are consistent with what is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, just updated earlier this year. The Dietary Guidelines are a set of science-based recommendations that include many tips for improving health and wellness.

According to the Guidelines, kids (and adults) should consume fewer sugary drinks and drink more water.  Making water readily accessible and free during lunch gives kids an added incentive to choose water over other beverages.

These are just two of many changes in the law that will improve kids’ access to healthy food and beverages in schools and in other places that participate in USDA’s child nutrition programs.

It’s important that child nutrition programs emphasize good eating habits if we want the next generation of children to be healthier than the last. Every day 32 million kids eat a school lunch and 12 million eat a school breakfast.  For many children, school meals contain the most nutritious foods they eat all day. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a critical part of getting kids off to a healthy start.

Please follow USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service on Twitter for the latest information on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and more.

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General Healthy
Apr 14, 2011

How about specifically noting that low-fat and fat-free milk should NOT include sugar-added chocoalate milk. If we have to add sugar to milk in order to get calcium and vitamin D into our kids, maybe we should serve carrot cake and apple pie every day, too.

Beach Spa Resorts
Apr 14, 2011


I think I was just blessed as my child is the perfect weight for her size, though she is petite to begin with. But her mom and I have not had to guide her to drink plenty water and milk, this is naturally what she “wants” to drink. As her father I would love to set a good example though don’t because I drink too many sodas per day and almost no straight water – not healthy!

As the owner of Beach Spa I am supposed to be the shining example of health, yet I often have to force myself to drink milk and water. Now my daugher Desiree, when she was but 3 years old, on one such vacation, she woke us up in the middle of the night screaming “milk-milk-milk,” like it was a fire. She kept it up, “I want some milk, cold milk!” She was half asleep. Did I or her mother teach her this? Hardly! At 4 in the morning the three of sat down for a cold glass of milk in that hotel room — today she is 13 and still “our” teacher on good health!

Gilda Batista
Apr 15, 2011

Ms. Long,

As a mom of 3 children, a former elementary school teacher in Palm Beach County and now owner of a water company, I can not express how refreshing it is to be reading about the much needed changes in school lunch beverage options. If you need any research or business partner in the water industry, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am very passionate about what my children drink and fully understand the importance of providing healthy drink options. I resigned my position as a teacher in Palm Beach County in 2004 after starting my family. I know own a water distribution company in South Florida and partner up many organizations in my community with my relationships in the water industry. Gilda Batista Glass Bottled Water, Inc.

Richmond dentist
May 26, 2011

I think this program will really help a lot of kids especially on their nutrition. It is important that kids should learn to drink 8 glasses of water and drink milk for a strong bones. It is really a big help to us parents. :)

Chris D
Jun 13, 2011

Drinking pasteurized milk does NOTHING for building strong bones; it actually depletes the body of calcium because it lacks the proper enzymes (killed during pasteurization) necessary for the body to process the calcium in milk. Further, pasteurized milk lacks nutrition as many of the nutrition is killed off with extremely high heat pasteurization.

On another note, since when do we allow our government (state/federal) to dictate to parents what we should/not feed our kids? I didn't know parent's relinquished their parental rights. When did that happen?