Milk consumption is falling in schools, according to a recent National Dairy Council report, and a new bill is designed to do something about it.
Reps. G.T. Thompson, R-Pa., and Joe Courtney, D-Conn., on Tuesday introduced the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 to preserve milk's role in school feeding programs, while complying with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 reaffirms the requirement that milk is offered with each school meal, consistent with current law and the DGA. The bill also supports variety and availability of milk served in schools through a new pilot program and research.
The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation said they strongly support the bill and encourage Congress to adopt it in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process.
The National Dairy Council's recent report "Fluid Milk in School Meal Programs" identified declining milk consumption in schools as a concern and noted it is difficult to replace the nutrient package found in milk with other foods, without adding extra calories and cost.
"Although milk is the number one source of nine essential nutrients in young Americans' diets and provides multiple health benefits, children over four years old are not meeting the federal guidance that advises three daily servings of milk or other dairy foods for children nine years and older," said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
He noted that from 2012 to 2014, schools served 187 million fewer half-pints of milk, although total public school enrollment grew during that period.
Authorization for the federal child nutrition programs expires at the end of September, and Congress is now beginning the process of reauthorizing the programs.
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