May 26, 2022

Flavored milk will be allowed in NY schools

Flavored milk will be allowed in NY schools 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The mayor of New York City (NYC), Eric Adams will allow NYC public schools to continue to serve low-fat and fat-free flavored milk with school meals. The mayor’s administration is honoring a longstanding policy in the NYC government that allows individual schools to determine the types of milk they will serve with meals as long as the milk options are consistent with standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has advocated for the inclusion of flavored milk in NYC schools. “I am pleased to see Mayor Adams following the lead of parents, physicians, and dietitians, all of whom widely support offering low-fat flavored milk to students in our public schools,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “IDFA is grateful to our association members, parents of school-aged children, physicians and dietitians, and members of Congress who spoke up on behalf of what’s best for child nutrition and preserved low-fat flavored milk in New York City public schools.” 

This news comes from a letter by Adams, obtained by the New York Post. “We are preparing for stakeholder engagement with our school communities to provide feedback on all aspects of our school food program. In the interim, we are not making any determinations about chocolate milk,” the letter states. 

Adams, a self-proclaimed vegan, has received backlash on the proposed flavored milk ban. While the letter indicates a win for the dairy industry, Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) warns this is not the end of the battle. “But make no mistake, any effort of Mayor Adams to ban chocolate milk and replace it with vegan juice is an absolute non-starter and will be opposed by parents, families, kids, and New Yorkers. I will continue to lead the effort to protect real dairy products in schools for the sake of our kids.” Stefanik also introduced the Protecting School Milk Choices Act of 2022 as a response to Adams. 

In a rare bipartisan letter from Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) and other members of Congress from New York, legislators encouraged Mayor Adams not to eliminate flavored milk from New York City school meals. “As Members representing both rural and urban communities,” the letter reads, “we are committed to supporting the dairy farmers, producers, and agriculture partners across New York, while also ensuring that children in NYC schools have access to critical, life-enhancing nutrients. Unfortunately, for many NYC families, the meals children receive in schools are their only source of many recommended nutrients.”

In March, USDA released a transitional final rule maintaining low-fat, flavored milk and other needed flexibilities in USDA child nutrition program meal requirements through the 2023-2024 school year. USDA is now reviewing comments in preparation for releasing updated child nutrition program standards for the 2024 school year and beyond.