Got milk? For a growing number of U.S. high schools, the answer is “yes” . . . if you count lattes and cappuccinos. School coffee bars are booming, thanks to a dairy-industry push to get folks drinking more of the bone-building white stuff. But do kids and coffee mix?
Food fads change. Milk used to be a staple. But demand for dairy has fallen over the last 50 years. Even skim milk, once a darling for its protein and lack of fat, is losing popularity. Aren’t you glad “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person”? (Matthew 15:11)
To boost milk sales, regional dairy groups are encouraging schools to serve milky drinks like smoothies, hot chocolate, and iced lattes. Some have gone further: They’re giving milk money to schools.
For example, a $5,000 grant helped pay for an espresso machine in North Dakota. The machine froths lattes containing about eight ounces of milk each. The drinks used 530 gallons of milk at the school this past school year.
In Florida, a dairy group paid for coffee carts in 21 high schools. A Southwest dairy group gave grants to seven schools for coffee programs.
Supporters say coffee offers other benefits such as giving teens a reason to get to school on time—or even early. Others point out that in-school coffee ventures can provide hands-on work experience for students.
Cafeteria directors and dairy officials say coffee drinks in schools must follow nutrition standards. That, they say, makes the beverages healthier than the lattes students would buy outside of school.
Julie Ostrow of Midwest Dairy agrees. She points out that milk is a primary ingredient for lattes. “It’s really milk with some coffee, as far as proportion,” she says. But as any coffee drinker knows, milk-to-coffee ratios can vary widely.
Not everyone thinks teens should drink coffee at all. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption among children. They cite possible harmful effects on developing bodies. Pediatrician Natalie Muth says there are ways to encourage students to get the nutrients of milk—without promoting caffeine habits that could lead to headaches, nervousness, and sleeplessness.
There’s a fourth coffee bar going into the Fort Zumwalt, Missouri, district this upcoming school year. Midwest Dairy will sponsor the bar. But dairy officials may not approve of one of the kiosk’s newest add-ins: almond milk.