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NMPF Works with Congress and IDFA to Reverse Decline in School Milk Consumption

June 4, 2015

As Congress prepares to review and reenact federal child nutrition programs, NMPF has worked in concert with the International Dairy Foods Association and two House members to craft legislation aimed at reversing the decline in school milk consumption.

The bipartisan School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015, introduced in mid-May by Representatives G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT), reaffirms the long-standing requirement that milk is offered with each school meal. It attacks declining milk consumption with research and a pilot program increasing the variety and availability of milk in schools.

NMPF and IDFA want Congress to consider the Thompson-Courtney bill in the child nutrition reauthorization process. Legal authority to operate the programs expires in September.

“Although milk provides multiple health benefits and is the number one source of nine essential nutrients in the diets of young Americans, many children are not consuming the recommended three servings of milk or other dairy foods a day,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “In addition, from 2012 to 2014, schools served 187 million fewer half-pints of milk, while total public school enrollment grew.”

Much of that decline, in NMPF’s view, is the result of a decision by USDA to limit flavored milk servings in schools to nonfat-only. NMPF had urged USDA to include lowfat along with nonfat flavored milk, consistent with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, because of concern that many children do not like nonfat milk. NMPF warned USDA that milk consumption in schools would likely decline if flavored milk servings were limited to nonfat-only. “The net result of this misguided approach has been fewer beneficial nutrients consumed by schoolchildren who aren’t drinking as much milk,” Mulhern said.

In a related development, the National Dairy Council issued a report in May highlighting the history and nutritional importance of school milk. Fluid Milk in School Meal Programs identifies declining school milk consumption as a concern and notes that it is difficult to replace the nutrients in milk without adding extra calories and cost.