Reps. Thompson, Courtney Introduce School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017

Oct 24, 2017 Issues: Agriculture

Bipartisan bill will expand milk options for students, works with USDA to reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools

WASHINGTONU.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05) and Joe Courtney (CT-02) today introduced H.R. 4101, the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017, which will ease unnecessary regulations preventing milk consumption in school lunch programs.

The bipartisan bill recognizes the importance of milk to the health and well-being of school children. It also works to improve the variety and availability of milk offered in schools, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue earlier this year.

In May, Secretary Purdue directed USDA to begin the process of allowing schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk through the school meals program.    

“Milk is the No. 1 source of nine essential nutrients in many young American’s diets and provides many significant health benefits,” Rep. Thompson said. “The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017 seeks to reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. By allowing children more milk options – including flavored milk – it is my hope that we will witness consumption return to their historic levels and kids will again be able to enjoy milk. I am certainly encouraged by the Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s support, and I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Courtney to pass this important piece of legislation.”

“Milk is a cornerstone of a healthy meal for our nation’s children,” Rep. Courtney said. “It packs valuable nutrients including protein, potassium, and calcium—a solid foundation for building a healthy menu in America’s schools. With declining milk consumption in recent years, our bill provides school systems the flexibility to offer students a wider range of healthy milk options. I am proud to join with Rep. Thompson to offer this proposal to expand milk varieties in schools while also supporting local dairy production.”

The School Milk Nutrition Act is strongly supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). 

“Congressmen Thompson and Courtney recognize the nutritional role that milk plays in helping school-aged children to grow and develop to their full potential,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “We appreciate their steadfast commitment to reverse declining milk consumption by allowing schools to give kids access to a variety of milk options, including the flavored milks they love.”

“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 childrens’ diets:  calcium, potassium, and vitamin D,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This legislation helps address that shortcoming both in schools and in the WIC program.”

Key Provisions of the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017:

  • Preserve milk’s integral role in school meals by reaffirming the requirement that milk is offered with each meal, that varieties of milk is consistent with the DGA, and that substitute beverages be nutritionally equivalent to milk.
  • Provide schools the option of offering low-fat (1%) flavored milk, rather than only fat- free – but only if the milk contains no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving.
  • Eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome paperwork for schools who wish to offer students more variety.
  • Allow milk to be sold in the same age-appropriate container sizes as competing beverages.
  • Establish a pilot program designed to increase milk consumption through expanded breakfast programs, a la carte sales, new outlets, etc., with a focus on improvements to packaging, refrigeration, flavors and merchandising.
  • Allow mothers in the WIC program to select reduced-fat milk (2%) for themselves or their children with a written request.