Dairy industry praises bill to allow low-fat flavored milk in schools | TheFencePost.com

Dairy industry praises bill to allow low-fat flavored milk in schools

Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Joe Courtney, D-Conn., today introduced a bill that would allow schools to offer low-fat flavored milk with no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving as well as fat-free flavored milk in the federal school lunch and breakfast programs.

The bill allows individual schools and school districts to determine which milkfat varieties to offer their students.

The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association today praised the bill, which would put into law the administrative changes in the school lunch program proposed earlier this year by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

The two dairy groups said that milk consumption in the schools had dropped since the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act removed low-fat flavored milk from school meals. Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, pointed out that in just the first two years after low-fat flavored milk was removed from the school lunch program, 1.1 million fewer school students drank milk with their lunch.

The legislation includes a pilot program to test strategies that schools can use to increase the consumption of fluid milk, the dairy groups said. This could include ways to make milk more attractive and available to students, including improved refrigeration, packaging and merchandising.

The bill also includes a provision to allow participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, to have access to reduced-fat milk for themselves and their children.

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"When kids don't drink milk, it's extremely difficult for them to get sufficient amounts of three of the four major nutrients most lacking in children's diets: calcium, potassium, and vitamin D," said Mulhern. "This legislation addresses that shortcoming both in schools and in the WIC program."