WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris administration, while highlighting its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on Feb. 27, recognized the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and its Healthy School Milk Commitment pledge. 

IDFA president and chief executive officer Michael Dykes, along with IDFA members HP Hood and Agri-Mark dairy cooperative, were among the handful of organizations invited to the event, with the dairy professionals earning recognition for the pledge made by 37 school milk processors to provide healthy, nutritious school milk options with no more than 10 grams of added sugar per 8 fluid oz serving.

The commitment recently expanded to include the US Department of Agriculture’s federally funded Summer Food Service Program, which brings healthy meals and snacks to as many as 3.2 million low-income children and teens during summer months.

HP Hood’s Megan Delano, senior manager of regulatory affairs, and Linda Cote, senior manager of R&D, brought samples of the company’s reformulated non-fat chocolate milk to the event. HP Hood sources some of the milk for its school milk products from Agri-Mark dairy farms. Agri-Mark board chair James “Cricket” Jacquier, co-owner of Laurelbrook Farm in East Canaan, Conn., also attended.

Dykes said America’s milk processors have taken proactive efforts to reduce added sugar in school milk.

“The Healthy School Milk Commitment ensures all children, especially our most vulnerable, have access to nutritious milk options throughout the year with less added sugar and fewer calories,” Dykes said. “School milk is the leading source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium for American children. As the Biden-Harris administration recognized today, IDFA and our nation’s school milk processors have stepped up in a big way to provide wholesome and healthy milk options with 13 essential nutrients to children all year around.”

Lynne Bohan, HP Hood group vice president, communications and government affairs, said the company works with family farms “to bring nutritious milk products that taste great to schools across the Northeast with the highest degree of freshness and safety.”

Bohan added: “The new chocolate milk we debuted today for schools exemplifies Hood’s ongoing commitment to quality, innovation and nutrition. We’re grateful to participate in today’s event at the White House as part of the Healthy School Milk Commitment, and we look forward to continue bringing Hood’s highly nutritious dairy products to people of all ages for many years to come.”

Representing Agri-Mark, Jacquier said dairy farmers devote their lives to producing fresh local milk.

“That dedication begins on the farm and is continued by our processor partners like HP Hood who have created a nutritious, delicious product that students want to drink,” Jacquier said. “This new product checks the box of exceeding nutritional standards and is kid-approved. Students have always reached for flavored milk, and now they’ll have even more nutritious choices thanks to the Healthy School Milk Commitment. We applaud the dairy industry’s efforts to reduce added sugars proactively and voluntarily in school milk.”

National dairy cooperative Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) applauded the administration for endorsing the Healthy School Milk Commitment.

Said Dennis Rodenbaugh, DFA president and CEO: “Our family farmer-owners work hard day in and day out to produce wholesome and nutritious milk and are committed to the well-being of our nation’s children. The Healthy School Milk Commitment is an important step in helping ensure our children continue to have choice and access to nutrient-rich milk on school breakfast and lunch trays.”

DFA noted its TruMoo brand flavored milks that are available in many schools contain no more than 7 grams of added sugars per 8 fluid oz serving.

IDFA shared that surveys among school milk processors conducted by the organization with Prime Consulting found the level of added sugars in flavored milk products has declined by 55% between 2006 and 2023. In 2006, products included 16.7 grams of added sugar per 8 oz serving, and in 2023 that number was at 7.5 grams of added sugar per serving. IDFA pointed out milk processors signed on to Healthy School Milk Commitment this past year and began reformulating products.

More details are available online via IDFA’s website.