Bill would allow participants in WIC program to access 2% and whole milk.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

September 4, 2020

3 Min Read
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

New legislation introduced in the House aims to increase milk consumption in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) by giving participants over the age of two the option of having 2% reduced-fat milk and whole milk as part of their diet. The bill reverses an Obama Administration rule limiting WIC participants to low-fat (1%) or nonfat milk.

Rep. Fred Keller (R., Pa.) introduced the Giving Increased Variety to Ensure Milk into the Lives of Kids Act -- the GIVE MILK Act -- with original co-sponsor Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R., Pa.).

“Whole milk and 2% reduced-fat milk remain some of the most nutritious options to support a healthy upbringing, and it is essential that we expand these critical sources of nutrients in our federal nutrition assistance programs,” Keller said. “That is why I am proud to introduce the GIVE MILK Act to ensure whole milk and 2% reduced-fat milk are readily available for our families and children relying on the WIC program while simultaneously supporting our nation’s dairy farmers.”

Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation, explained that milk's unique nutritional profile includes nine essential nutrients, three of which Americans get so little of that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services "deemed their under-consumption a public health concern. The GIVE MILK Act would make it easier for expectant mothers and mothers of young children to access milk for their families, providing infants, children and mothers the nutrients they need during key developmental stages.”

Dr. Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Assn., said, “The GIVE MILK Act will encourage WIC families to consume more milk which is central to a healthy diet beginning at a very young age. The American Academy of Pediatrics says milk is the leading food source for calcium, vitamin D and potassium in the diet of American children 2-18 years as well the number-one source of protein. No other type of food or beverage provides the unique combination of nutrients that cow’s milk contributes to the diets of adults and children alike. Milk processors are grateful to Congressmen Keller and Thompson for supporting mothers and children with this important bill.”

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) applauded the bill’s introduction, saying, “The American Dairy Coalition and the dairy producers we represent across the nation are thankful Congressman Keller is dedicated to ensuring nutritionally at-risk Americans have the ability to choose what dairy products fit the taste preferences of their families.”

The WIC program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, nutritional education and other support for low-income pregnant or postpartum women as well as caregivers of children under age five. This program helps put good nutrition in the hands of children, and it is vital for it to include the best-tasting dairy products: full-fat dairy, according to ADC. Whole milk provides a nutritionally dense, affordable and accessible complete source of protein that children love. Science shows that consumption of these products promotes a healthy weight in both children and adults and fends of chronic diseases, ADC said.

In a statement, ADC added, “More initiatives such as the GIVE MILK Act are necessary to change the antiquated and unscientifically based notion that saturated fats are dangerous to public health. We encourage all members of the dairy industry to not only support the GIVE MILK Act but also encourage their legislators to urge the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also be updated to remove caps on saturated fats, allowing once more the choice of whole milk in public schools. Children deserve the best; let’s give them whole milk.”

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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