NMPF Submits Joint Comments to USDA School Lunch and Breakfast Program

NMPF submitted joint comments March 24 with the International Dairy Foods Association to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service urging the agency to improve nutrition security by updating school meal nutrition standards to encourage increased consumption of dairy. Doing so would be in keeping with recommendations made in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) report and by leading health organizations.

USDA announced transitional school meal nutrition standards for the next two school years that will allow schools to continue to serve low-fat flavored milk consistent with DGA recommendations while pausing overly stringent sodium reduction targets that threaten the ability of school meals professionals to serve nutrient-rich cheeses. USDA intends to craft more permanent standards for school year 2024/2025 to pave the way for healthy and nutritious school meals.

Highlighted in the comments are the nutritional benefits that the low-fat flavored milk provides students- the same 13 essential nutrients which unflavored offers. NMPF and IDFA also point out that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say modest amounts added sugars can be added to nutrient-dense foods – including low-fat or fat-free milk – to help meet food group recommendations.

The comments also emphasize the need to work with industry before implementing further sodium reduction targets, the importance of lactose-free and reduced-lactose options for schools and dairy products at a variety of fat levels.