NMPF Thanks USDA for Keeping Low-Fat Flavored Milk in Schools, Culminating 12-Year Effort

The National Milk Producers Federation thanked USDA for solidifying the ability of schools to offer 1% and fat-free flavored milk in school meals for children of all ages in its final school nutrition standards rule, a victory for schoolchildren that’s been 12 years in the making and will encourage consumption of the essential nutrients provided by dairy.

“This final rule helps ensure kids will be able to choose a nutritious milk they tend to prefer,” said Gregg Doud, CEO and President of NMPF. “Many children prefer low-fat flavored milk over fat-free, and flavored milk offers the same nutrients as regular milk with a minor amount of added sugar.”

NMPF praised its member cooperatives for their tireless work to decrease the level of added sugar in flavored school milk, which now generally falls below the added sugar maximum established in this final rule. “Not only does flavored milk offer the same nutrients as regular milk, its presence correlates with decreased waste in school cafeterias. I am proud of our industry’s successful commitment to providing a healthy product that kids want,” Doud said.

The final rule will include sodium limits on school meals that will not be more restrictive than the Target 2 limits from the 2012 school meals rule, a compromise NMPF supports. Added sugar maximums will also be placed on flavored yogurt (12 grams per 6 ounces) and flavored milk (10 grams per 8 ounces) beginning with the 2025-26 school year, followed by a weekly menu-wide limit of an average of less than 10 percent of calories per meal from added sugars beginning with the 2027-28 school year.

NMPF also commended the work of Reps. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-PA, and Joe Courtney, D-CT, who led and secured broad bipartisan backing for legislative efforts over several years that were instrumental to today’s outcome of restoring low-fat flavored milk as a long-term option for schools.

“We are grateful to Representatives Thompson and Courtney for spearheading the successful drive to restore low-fat flavored milk over these last 12 years,” Doud said. “We are thrilled that, working with these members, USDA has put this issue to rest.”

Doud also noted that despite todays’ significant progress, the work to ensure adequate milk access in schools isn’t finished yet. NMPF supports the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which would restore whole and 2 percent varieties to school lunch menus. Led by Reps. Thompson and Kim Schrier, D-WA, the legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in December and awaits Senate approval.