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School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017 Proposed to Reverse Declining Milk Consumption

As previously reported on this blog, USDA submitted an interim final rule on July 6, 2017, that would—among other things—expand the types of flavored milk allowed in the school lunch program. That announcement followed a May 2, 2017 proclamation by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue explaining that USDA would provide greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for school meal programs, including providing schools with the discretion to serve flavored, 1% fat milk as part of their lunch or breakfast.

The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017 (H.R. 4101), introduced by Representatives G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT), would make the changes concerning milk types allowed in the school lunch program permanent. The Act states that low-fat flavored milk may not contain more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving. It also specifies that women and children 24-months and older in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (known as WIC) should have access to reduced-fat (2 %) milk.

Noting that milk consumption is declining, the legislation also directs USDA to carry out a study to determine the factors that may adversely affect milk consumption. Furthermore, the study should include recommendations, if any, to increase milk consumption in schools.

The proposed legislation was praised by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “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 Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, in a press release. “This legislation addresses that shortcoming both in schools and in the WIC program.

R. 4101 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Oct. 24, 2017, the same day that it was introduced.

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