School Milk Act Would Allow Schools to Offer Low-fat and Fat-free Milk

NMPF is working to build support in Congress for a new bipartisan bill introduced last month that would help reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools.

The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017, introduced by Reps G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT), would allow schools to offer low-fat flavored milk, in addition to the current offering of fat-free milk, to participants 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.

Once enacted, the bill would make permanent the administrative changes in the school lunch program proposed earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue supports giving school districts the option to offer a variety of milk types, beyond low-fat white milk and fat-free white and flavored choices.

The legislation – reflecting input from both NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) – includes a pilot program to test strategies that schools can use to increase the consumption of fluid milk. This could include ways to make milk more attractive and available to students, such as improved refrigeration, packaging and merchandising. The act would also allow participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to have access to reduced-fat milk.

“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 NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “This legislation addresses that shortcoming both in schools and in the WIC program.”