In 2006, New York City, the largest school district in the country, eliminated whole milk and reduced the availability of sweetened milk in 1,579 schools. Despite pressure from the American Dairy Council, skepticism from school food administrators and elected officials, and the difficulties inherent in changing a system that serves 120,000,000 containers of milk per year, a community-led coalition prevailed. This article describes how parents, educational leaders, advocates, and health professionals collaborated to educate school children and their families to choose low-fat milk, and created change at a system, policy, and environmental level to promote health in the community.
Institute for Family Health, Bronx Health REACH/Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Disparities (Mss Golub and Ruddock and Dr Calman); Montefiore School Health Program (Ms Charlop); Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Dr Groisman-Perelstein), New York.
Correspondence: Maxine Golub, MPH, Institute for Family Health, 16 East 16th St, New York, NY 10003 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This work was supported, in part, by cooperative agreements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention REACH 2010 and REACH U.S. programs, and a grant from the New York State Department of Health Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Adult Health-Healthy Hearts Program.
This article is dedicated to our friend and colleague, Megan Charlop, a tireless champion for health and justice, who saw “what could be...not what wasn't.”
The authors thank Dr Jane Bedell of the New York City Department of Health, and Alma Idehen, of the Department of Education—steadfast allies; Healthy Hearts coordinators Sabrina Lenoir Evangelista and Geysil Arroyo, and Bronx Health REACH nutritionist Brooke Bennett, for their hard work and dedication to the school children of the Bronx; Jill Linnell, for greatly appreciated research assistance; and the many other advocates who participated in this effort—it could not have been done without you.