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Parents want whole, 2% milk options reinstated in school meals

Overwhelming majority of parents support passing legislation to allow schools to serve milk options.

February 12, 2024

3 Min Read
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For 12 years, students in U.S. public schools have not been able to access the milk options that they prefer and consume at home: whole and reduced fat (2%) milk. As the U.S. Senate considers the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023—bipartisan legislation to reinstate these nutritious milk options in school meals—a new Morning Consult poll of parents with children in public shows near unanimous support for the bill.

Large majorities of parents surveyed in the Morning Consult national tracking poll commissioned by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) want to see whole and 2% milks back in school meals. Findings include:

  • 94% of parents serve whole or 2% to their school-aged children at home, and they want these options to be made available to their children at school;

  • 89% of parents agree that whole milk and 2% milk should be options for children in public schools;

  • Most parents of public-school students believe whole (58%) and/or 2% milk (66%) is currently served in their children’s school cafeterias, although it was banned more than a decade ago

  • 89% of parents support Congress passing legislation to make these options available;

  • Nine in ten (90%) view drinking milk as an important component of children’s daily nutritional intake; and

  • Parents consider whole and 2% milks to be healthy (86%), wholesome (83%), nutritious (83%) and tasty (80%).

“Parents across the country, regardless of income or location or political leanings, want public schools to offer whole and 2% milk because they know milk is critical to the health and wellbeing of their children, and they know their children prefer these options,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and chief executive officer. “This new polling underscores the near unanimous support among parents with children in public school for Congress to reinstate whole and 2% milk in school meals by passing the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023.”

The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023 (H.R.1147, S.1957) would allow schools to once again provide children with a wide variety of milk options that meet their individual needs—whether that be whole or 2%, low fat, or lactose-free milk. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in December by a wide margin, while the U.S. Senate companion bill has been cosponsored by 14 bipartisan U.S. Senators.

“For more than a decade, Congress has denied dairy farmers and milk processors the ability to serve their best product to students. Reinstating whole and 2% milk in schools will increase milk consumption, ensuring more children get the necessary nutrients they need to thrive every day. IDFA urges the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation and grant U.S. students the ability to access the nutritious milk options they prefer to drink,” said Dykes.

“Dairy farmers work hard to supply our nation with a wholesome, nutritious supply of milk so that kids and adults can benefit from its 13 essential nutrients,” said Joe Diglio, chair of the IDFA Fluid Milk Board, and president and CEO of Michigan Milk Producers Association. “The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids act will provide students with milk options in schools that they're familiar with at home. Allowing whole and 2% milk options also supports growing scientific evidence that dairy foods at all fat levels have numerous health benefits that kids need.”

Timothy Kelly, vice chair of the IDFA Fluid Milk Board, and senior vice president & general manager at Shamrock Foods Company, commented, “Milk’s nutrient package is unmatched, so we want offerings in our schools that kids are more likely to consume. The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act offers exactly that, which will help ensure kids today and those of future generations receive critical nutrition during the school day.”

The Morning Consult poll was conducted between January 18-20, 2024, among a sample of 629 Parents with children in public school. The data were weighted to approximate a target sample of parents with children in public school based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. The interviews were conducted online. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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