Parents Urged to Make Change to Save Change at Back-to-School Time

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KANSAS CITY, Mo., July 22 // -- A return to hectic school-year schedules puts families on the go and may cause kids to miss out on key nutrients. A recent report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed Americans are short-changing themselves on nutrients. To address the shortfall, the Midwest Dairy Council challenges parents to consider easy food changes that help address nutrition deficiencies without breaking the bank. Parents are urged to make change by consuming more dairy products, which helps to save change in their wallets, and ensures they aren't short-changed on nutrition. For example, at just 25 cents per glass, milk provides one of the richest sources of well-absorbed calcium in the American diet. Plus it contains eight other essential nutrients, including vitamin D that helps enhance calcium absorption.

Back-to-school time also is a good time to brush up on the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s of meals and snacks that pack the most nutritional and economic value.

"Even in this economy, parents can't afford to compromise on their kids' nutrition. I encourage families to start the day with breakfast," says Nikki Stahr, a registered dietitian with the Midwest Dairy Council. "Select foods from three of the five food groups, including dairy. Dollar for dollar, dairy is one of the most economical sources of nutrition on your shopping list."

Stahr says another place to make change is in kids' snacks. According to the NPD Group's 'Snacking in America 2008' report, children consume 30 percent of America's snack foods, including candy, candy bars, potato chips and gum. Dairy is a better choice than empty-calorie snacks and drinks that also drain parents' wallets.

"Avoid the expensive snack aisles and focus on economical snacks that pay you back in nutrition, like yogurt and cheese," says Stahr. "A single 8-ounce dairy serving provides four of the seven essential nutrients that Americans miss most."

Stahr noted that some beverages claim to deliver as much calcium as milk, but the calcium added to fortified beverages like orange juice and soy beverages is actually harder for the body to absorb. Milk also is about 30 percent less expensive (per serving) than fortified orange juice, and significantly less than the average sports drink.

"Both kids and adults need at least three servings of dairy a day to build stronger bones and overall healthier bodies," Stahr said. "Dairy just makes sense for its nutrition and economic value."

For tips on how to make meaningful change this school year for your family and your wallet, go to

    Easy Ways to Make Change

    ------------------- ---------------------------------------------------

    Start each day with It's a great way for kids to be on target to meet

    breakfast. their daily needs for key nutrients, including

     calcium, and it provides a greater payoff in

     improved concentration, higher test scores and

     better behavior in school.

    ------------------- ---------------------------------------------------

    Limit soda Many designer drinks, sodas and fruit drinks are

    consumption. high in calories and expensive, which won't help

     your wallet or your waistline. Remember that

     flavored milk contains the same nine nutrients as

     white milk, at just pennies per glass.

    ------------------- ---------------------------------------------------

    Avoid the expensive Focus on easy snacks that pay you back, like yogurt

    snack aisles. and cheese. Place a mom-approved snack bowl in the

     fridge that contains pre-portioned snacks like

     string cheese and yogurt cups for nutritious grab

     and go snacks when pressed for time.

    ------------------- ---------------------------------------------------

    Make snacks fun. Let kids be involved in the selection and

     preparation of snack food. By taking time on

     front-end preparation has a payoff in your grocery

     bill, and it provides a better benefit in teaching

     important life skills and spending quality time

     with your kids in the kitchen.

    ------------------- ---------------------------------------------------


The Midwest Dairy Council is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council's mission is to promote a healthy diet through nutrition education and the use of dairy products to consumers, health professionals and teachers. Midwest Dairy Council is funded by check-off dollars from dairy farmers in a nine-state region that includes: Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. For more information, visit or

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