Pilot Program Placing Hot Chocolate Milk in Schools

A dairy checkoff partnership is putting hot chocolate milk into the hands of students during a pilot with a leading school foodservice company. National Dairy Council and Chartwells K12, which serves more than two million meals daily at 700 U.S. school districts, have launched the Hot Chocolate Milk program in 58 schools. Lisa Hatch, vice president of business development for National Dairy Council, says the pilot, which will run through the end of the school year, features real chocolate milk – served hot during breakfast and lunch.

“There’s this interesting shift happening with young people right now, and especially when it comes to their attitude about healthy eating. So as it turns out, chocolate milk or hot chocolate really hits the spot. It’s not just a treat that kids really love, but it also meets the healthy beverage guidelines set by schools.”  

National Dairy Council began working with Chartwells K12 last year on a dairy-based smoothie program, which is available to all Chartwells schools following a successful pilot.

“We have a really proven track record with Chartwells. In 2023, we partnered with them and launched a smoothie program in about 130 of their schools, which was really well received and drove significant dairy and meal participation across the board.” 

The smoothie program’s success led to a “what’s the next big thing?” discussion between the partners. They focused on hot chocolate, which had a global market size valued at $3.8 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $5.77 billion by 2030.

“So what we’re seeing so far is really positive. Kids are very excited. Again, this is anecdotal at this point. But what we’re hearing is it’s so successful in some situations that it’s a little bit too good because every kid wants to take it, and really, they’re drinking it down to the last drop, which is great to see.”