New bill encourages whole milk in schools
A new bipartisan bill introduced to the House would allow for unflavored and flavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias. The While Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2021 was introduced by Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA) and Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado (NY).
“The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act will help young people maintain a healthy diet while supporting our upstate dairy farmers and processors,” said Delgado in a press release. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to provide more choices for healthy and nutritious milk in schools. This legislation is good for young people and good for our dairy producers in today’s tough farm economy.”
“Milk provides nine essential nutrients as well as a great deal of long-term health benefits. Due to the baseless demonization of milk over the years, we’ve lost nearly an entire generation of milk drinkers, and these young people are missing out on the benefits of whole milk,” said Thompson. “It is my hope The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act will give children a wide variety of milk options and bolster milk consumption – a win-win for growing children and America’s dairy farmers.”
In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which amended nutrition standards in the School Lunch Program. Among the changes, the law mandated that flavored milk must be fat-free within the program. Thompson introduced the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017, which provided schools the option to serve 1% flavored milk varieties. Later that year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a rule that allowed schools to receive waivers for low-fat (1%) flavored milk rather than only fat-free. The Act builds upon this rule to ensure that schools can also serve unflavored and flavored whole milk and provides schools with more options and flexibility in offering milk. The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act was previously introduced in 2019 but did not advance to a vote.
The Act has received praise from many in the milk industry. “The recently updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans reaffirmed dairy’s central role in providing essential nutrients, including those of public health concern. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee also found that 79 percent of 9-13-year-olds don’t meet the recommended intake for dairy. We commend Representative Antonio Delgado for introducing the bipartisan Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act. Representative Delgado is a strong advocate for policies to help children obtain the nutritional benefits that are vital to a healthy eating pattern and allowing schools to offer whole milk provides a valuable way to do that,” said Jim Mulhern, president, and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This bill will help provide our children the nutrition they need to lead healthy lives.”