Schools concerned with level of milk consumption

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COLUMBIA - Director of Nutrition Services for Columbia Public Schools Laina Fullum said milk consumption has gone down in the district.

Fullum said she discovered the problem when she talked to Central Dairy, the district's vendor. 

"I had asked our milk vendor to provide us with the velocity report to tell us where our milk sales or purchases were, and it was significantly low considering the number of meals we actually serve in a year's time," Fullum said.

Fullum said the district's milk has been reformulated, and high-fructose corn syrup has been eliminated from flavored milk. She said the sugar content has also decreased so the milk is not as flavorful.

Fullum said one regulation handed down by the federal government last year affected the level of milk consumption in that middle schools and high schools had to downsize the portion of milk containers from 16 ounces to 12 ounces. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, elementary schools may only sell up to 8-ounce containers.

Susan Lebel, the kitchen manager at Rock Bridge Elementary School, said she has not noticed a big drop in the amount of milk kids drink.

"I'm not sure exactly what the numbers are, but it doesn't seem to be down all that much to me but I've only been back for a year," Lebel said. "Overall, I think kids here drink quite a bit of milk."

Fullum said parents should know about this because kids are not taking in crucial nutrients like Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

"I think it's important for parents to know that their children are opting out of milk, that flavored milk is the preferred milk, and even if it is flavored it's better than not having milk," Fullum said.

Fullum said the district will continue to serve flavored milk despite the federal regulations.

"We will continue to serve flavored milk because we recognize that if our students don't have that flavored milk option, they will opt to not have milk at all," Fullum said.