Students milking it at school

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REGIONAL — Got milk?

Students in three Oxford Hills School District elementary schools sure do.

In fact, the students at Paris Elementary School, Oxford Elementary School and Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris drank so much they were among the five schools in the state with the highest milk consumption per student during National Breakfast Week.

The “Get MOOOOVIng with Milk” contest was held in schools throughout the state during National School Breakfast Week from March 6-10.

Paris Elementary School students averaged  7.0 servings per student, Oxford Elementary School had 7.1 and Agnes Gray consumed 7.7 servings per student.

The other two winning schools were Benton Elementary School in SAD 49 with a per student consumption of 7.1 and Solon Elementary School in RSU 74 with a per student consumption of 7.6.

Agnes Gray students were the top milk drinkers that week.

Catherine Hoffmann, school programs manager for the Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council and Maine Dairy Promotion Board, said the contest was part of the National School Breakfast Week.

“We were looking for a fun way to add a little excitement to the week and challenged schools to promote milk consumption among their students,” Hoffmann told the Advertiser Democrat.

At the end of the week, schools submitted the number of cartons of milk consumed by students for both breakfast and lunch, along with the school enrollment, she said.

Hoffman said the board then calculated milk consumed per student for the week and the five schools with the highest per student consumption won.

There was no breakdown of what type of milk the students drank to win, but SAD 17 Food Service Director Jodi Truman said chocolate milk is the favored milk in the Oxford Hills School District.

Truman said the United States Department of Agriculture mandates that schools offer at least two types of milk, so SAD 17 offers fat-free white milk and fat-free chocolate milk.

Managers in each of the schools are directed to put the white milk in front of the chocolate milk in the case to subtly suggest students take the white milk. Students are not required to take a milk, but are encouraged to, said Truman.

While no statistics are kept in the local school kitchens, Truman said she is pretty sure that chocolate is taken more than white milk.

Interestingly, not all students like the taste of chocolate milk.

“We’re really sick of chocolate milk,” said Jenna Dudley, a 9-year-old student at Oxford Elementary School, who was drinking water during a recent school lunch.

“You get sick of it,” agreed classmate Hannah Strohl, also 9, who was drinking chocolate milk with her school lunch, but said she drinks white milk at home.

Hannah, Jenna and others at their luncheon table like Cameron Roy, Mykenzie Ross and Quintin Brandy, say drinks like lemonade, water, Hawaiian Punch and others are their favored choice of drink.

Even though it is a fat-free chocolate milk, the students say the chocolate flavor can get to be too much at times.

Truman said chocolate milk has been offered to students “forever,” and there are no plans to pull it from the lunch and breakfast menu.

“No, because kids would not drink milk then,” she said.

The observation is backed up in a new study by the National Dairy Council on Milk that shows a negative impact from schools that have removed chocolate milk from their cafeteria. Eliminating chocolate milk decreased the amount of children drinking milk and therefore the nutritional value of a school lunch.

Flavored and unflavored milk provides a source of calcium, vitamin D, Riboflavin and phosphorous.

The study said that in 58 schools nationwide where flavored options were removed or limited to only certain days, milk consumption dropped on average by 35 percent. Schools that were in a second year of no or limited flavored milk said that rate did not rebound.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net