U.S. Representatives Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Penn., introduced the bipartisan Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2021, which allows for unflavored and flavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias.
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. In May of 2017, the USDA announced a rule that allowed schools to receive waivers for low-fat (1%) flavored milk, rather than only fat-free.
The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act builds upon this rule to ensure that schools can also serve unflavored and flavored whole milk. This will provide schools with more options and flexibility in providing nutritious milk.
“The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act will help young people maintain a healthy diet while supporting our upstate dairy farmers and processors,” says Delgado. “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.”
Eric Ooms, Valatie, New York dairy farmer says he and his family take great pride in producing healthy, nutritious milk, which is a vital source of key nutrients of public health concern such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
Thompson, a descendant of a long line of dairy farmers and ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, adds, “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. 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.”
Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, explains 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% of 9-13-year-olds don’t meet the recommended intake for dairy. Mulhern says this policy would 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, Mulhern explains.
“Expanding milk options in schools helps ensure students get the 11 essential nutrients daily that only milk provides, including protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and potassium,” says Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.
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