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Senate Ag Committee Approves Bill Bringing More Milk Options to Schools

February 3, 2016

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved legislation on Jan. 20 that would enhance America’s child nutrition programs, including provisions sought by NMPF that would help reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools.

This bill, a product of several years of coordinated effort by NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association, directs the Department of Agriculture to review milk consumption in both the school meal program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). It also calls for adjustments to promote greater consumption of milk as recommended by the federal dietary guidelines, which were released in early January.  The new federal dietary guidelines reinforced the need for three servings of dairy foods per day, and provide the basis for USDA programs governed by the child nutrition act.

The Senate legislation includes language similar to a House bill that NMPF and IDFA endorsed in 2015. The bipartisan School Milk Nutrition Act (H. R. 2407) is still awaiting action in a House subcommittee.

NMPF has warned USDA in the past that milk consumption in schools would likely continue to decline if flavored milk servings remain limited to nonfat-only. NMPF has argued that many children dislike the taste of nonfat milk, choosing other beverages instead. Since milk is the number one source of nine important nutrients — including calcium, potassium and Vitamin D — in children’s diets, this means fewer beneficial nutrients, , are consumed by schoolchildren who aren’t drinking milk.

NMPF applauded the Senate committee action in a statement after the January hearing.

“The nutrition bill reflects the latest findings of the DGA, which indicated that consumption of dairy foods provides numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and obesity,” the statement said.