The ERS released new data last week showing schools are the richest source of dairy in children’s diets. The data comes from 2017-2018, for children between two and 19 years old. These foods provided an average of 1.99 cups of dairy products per 1,000 calories consumed each day.

Food sources are comprised of foods prepared at home and foods prepared away from home, including foods from restaurants, fast food establishments, and schools. The dairy foods group, as defined by USDA dietary guidance, is a major source of calcium and includes milk, cheese, yogurt, lactose-free milk, and fortified soy milk.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–25, recommend individuals two years and older should consume two or three cups of dairy per day, depending on age and calorie level of dietary pattern.

Although no age group meets this recommendation, children come the closest, with school foods making an important contribution.

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