Congressman Joe Courtney (D., Conn.) and Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R., Penn.) introduced the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2019—bipartisan legislation to expand milk options for students and reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools.
In November 2017, the U.S. Department of agriculture announced regulatory changes for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, including a provision that provides schools with the option to serve low-fat, 1-percent flavored milk. The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2019 will codify this milk provision and will maintain the option for schools to offer low-fat, 1-percent flavored milk if it is consistent with the mist recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
From 2014-2016, schools served 213 million fewer half pints of milk, even though school enrollment was growing. Children over four years-old are not meeting the recommended daily servings of dairy based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Declining milk consumption in schools not only affects students, but negatively affects dairy farms and farm families across the country. Providing students the option to consume low-fat milk with flavor, has the potential to positively affect milk consumption trends while supporting local dairy farmers.
A survey of over 300 schools that offered low-fat flavored milk during the 2017-18 school year found that 58% of schools saw an increase in milk sold and 82% of schools found it easy or very easy to include low-fat flavored milk within their overall calorie maximums, dairy industry groups noted.
According to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, American children and adolescents over four years old are not consuming enough dairy to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. As the American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Dairy products play an important role in the diet of children… In fact, milk is the leading food source of three of the four nutrients of public health concern (calcium, vitamin D, and potassium) in the diet of American children 2-18 years.” Milk also provides numerous additional health benefits, including stronger and healthier bones, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Milk provides the cornerstone of a healthy meal for our nation’s children,” Courtney said. “It packs valuable nutrients including protein, potassium, and calcium—a solid foundation for building a healthy menu in America’s schools. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a ten percent decline in school milk consumption in recent years as a result of removing low-fat flavored milk from school menus. Our bill will positively impact the quality of children’s diets while supporting our local family dairies.”
“Milk is the No. 1 source of nine essential nutrients in many young American’s diets and provides many significant health benefits,” said Thompson. “I am proud to join with Rep. Courtney in an effort to reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. By codifying what USDA is already allowing, it is my hope that we will witness consumption return to their historic levels with kids enjoying nutritious milk at school.”
This legislation is strongly supported by the National Milk Producers Federation, International Dairy Foods Assn., National Farmers Union, and National Farm Bureau Federation.
“Milk has been an integral part of school meals since their beginning, and greater milk consumption equals better nutrition for America’s kids,” said NMPF President and chief executive officer Jim Mulhern. “USDA’s action last year to return low-fat flavored milk to school menus has been good for schools, students and American dairy farmers. This legislation would further that progress by letting school districts know they can continue to offer low-fat flavored milk in years to come.”
“One of the best ways to help our growing children and teens get the nutrients they need is by providing healthy dairy options at school that they will actually drink,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and chief executive officer of IDFA. “We are grateful to Representatives Thompson and Courtney for introducing this bill that will maintain the option for schools to offer low-fat 1% flavored milk to students. Most students prefer these options at school because many enjoy them at home. The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2019 is a good first step toward providing expanded milk options that will help ensure students get the nine essential nutrients that milk uniquely provides, including powerful protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium.”